Archive for July, 2009

F&H News, 1 Year Gone

July 31, 2009

It’s been exactly one year since Fishing & Hunting News was swept under.

May we have a moment of silence in memory of the 54-year-old Northwest institution.

….

Last night I wrote a piece to post here, but events this morning conspired to keep me at home. And with limits on how long you can be on these library computers, I don’t have time enough to put it all back together.

But maybe it’s for the best. The piece was a bit bitter.

It was about the last days of F&H, and the sudden collapse. Seems like Brian, Mike and I here at NWS have told the story to half the sportsmen in the Northwest, and I’m sure Joel’s recited it just as many times.

Basically, the last potential buyer backed out last July and the owner quickly decided to stop publication of F&H and its seven editions. We all got the word just before lunch on a Thursday morning.

While some of my former coworkers still have yet to find work, we’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have found a publisher interested in continuing the basic F&H editorial model.

I can’t claim to have the monopoly on it — many writers emulate it around the Northwest. Nor can I say what we’re doing is pure F&H. We’ve opened up the mag to more than just go here, use this, catch this. Plus we’re also glossy and monthly. But I think most who’ve seen the new mag feel it’s better than F&H.

But it’s only better because F&H was there in the first place. I’ll be raising a glass to the old mag and its founder, Bill Farden, tonight. Please join me.

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Variety Of Fish Biting Now At Potholes

July 30, 2009

Bluegill, nice walleye, trout, smallmouth and largemouth — even catfish up to 15 pounds have been biting recently at Potholes Reservoir in Eastern Washington.

“Some jumbo walleye are showing in the early morning and evenings for trollers using Rapala Shad Raps and worm harnesses,” reports Mike Meseberg at Mar Don Resort, adding, “With surface water temps in the low-80-degree range, topwater bass fishing is very good.

For check out the resort’s fresh fishing report!

OR Hunt, Fish Licenses To Rise

July 30, 2009

With Gov. Kulongoski’s signature this week, it’s official, Oregon fishing and hunting licenses will be 21 percent higher as a whole starting Jan. 1, 2010.

However, some young sportsmen will see lower license fees.

ODFW says that without the hike, $17 million would have to have been cut from its $264 million two-year budget, or license prices in 2011-13 had to have risen 40 percent.

As it stands, here’s what you’ll be paying more for next year, and what it will go towards:

• The Access & Habitat program’s surcharge increased from $2 to $4. Ensures additional habitat enhancement on private lands, while maintaining the current
level of hunting access. The increase in the surcharge also allows the A&H program to
play a key role in ODFW’s Mule Deer Initiative by improving an additional 70,000 acres of habitat annually, while maintaining or increasing support for other habitat and access projects.

• The Restoration and Enhancement program’s surcharge increased from $2 to $4. This increase will provide funding for projects that will enhance fishing opportunities. The Restoration and Enhancement program is integral to recreational and commercial
fisheries management.

• A new $0.25 surcharge on angling licenses was made to help to fund fish passage projects.

• An increase of $0.50 in the existing fish screening surcharge was made. Fish screens are an essential part of any system that diverts water from a public water body. Screens prevent the loss of young fish as the water is used for irrigation, municipal, hydroelectric or other beneficial purposes.

• The new juvenile Sports Pac will help boost youth participation in hunting and fishing.
At $50, the juvenile Sports Pac is a significant savings for families and youth who want to participate in multiple hunting opportunities.

• Youth can now hunt turkeys and big game at a reduced price.

Sock Season A Go On L. Wen.

July 30, 2009

They’re four deep at the tackle counter at 9:25 on a Thursday morning, a noisy gaggle all looking to get hooked up for the start of sockeye season next week.

The anglers all want to talk to Don Talbot, who staffs the fishing desk at Hooked On Toys (509-663-0740) in Wenatchee, but he’s busy on the phone with a reporter.

He answered the ring just a minute ago with a mad laugh.

All to be expected. Sockeye will do that to Washingtonians.

It’s been relatively rare that Lake Wenatchee has been opened for sockeye fishing, though it did occur last year. And good numbers of the salmon in the Columbia tipped he and others off to the potential for a fishery about two weeks ago, but we’ve all been waiting as state biologists counted fish at three dams to determine how many were diverting towards the mountain lake north of Leavenworth.

Talbot says he’s known for a couple days now that WDFW would open the lake, but the go-ahead, thanks to a “very robust run,” wasn’t announced until last night.

“On a premonition,” he began tying up 500 two-hook rigs, but even that may not be enough.

“I’m tying more sockeye gear right now,” says Talbot.

He also ordered up a mess of knotless nets, which are required for this fishery.

As for how to fish the lake, it’s a lot like sockeye fishing at Seattle’s big sock hop.

“Straight red hooks, two of ’em, but the trick, the Lake Washington experts taught me, is the shorter the leader, the better. Eight, 10, 12 inches,” he says.

String it to a 1 or O size dodger.

“It’s a real good early morning fishery, and then you’ve got to have the wherewithall to go to 80 to 100 feet after 8 a.m.,” Talbot tips.

If you don’t have a downrigger, run your dodger and hooks off a 4-ounce banana weight, but switch up to a 6-ouncer after 8 a.m., he says.

The drawback to Lake Wenatchee is the limited access, in terms of launches and trailer parking. There’s one paved boat ramp at Lake Wenatchee State Park ($7 to launch) and a primitive one at Glacier View Campground ($5).

Fishing opens an hour before official sunrise on August 5.

Season runs until the surplus of sockeye back to the mountain lake have been caught. The daily limit is two sockeye 12 inches or longer.

Anglers are required to use single-point barbless hooks, but you can string up to three of them on a line. Bait and scents are illegal.

Fishing is open until an hour after sunset.

WDFW is also requiring that sockeye with one or more holes (round, approximately 1/4″ in diameter) punched in the tail of the fish (caudal fin) be released.  These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21 day ban on consumption of these fish.

Weyerhaueser Closes OR, WA Forest Lands

July 29, 2009

With record-breaking heat hitting Oregon and Washington and no rain in sight, Weyerhaueser has closed their tree farms on the west sides of both states indefinitely due to high fire danger.

That effectively puts an end to deer and elk scouting and other recreational access on their Vail, Aberdeen, Raymond and St. Helens tree farms in Washington and North Coast, North Willamette Valley, South Willamette Valley, Springfield, and Coos Bay operating areas in Oregon.

Around the Northwest, there are six fires burning in Oregon, the largest a 3,400-acre blaze near the John Day Fossil Beds. In Washington, the Union Valley fire is burning north of the town of Chelan, and there are smaller fires in the Wenatchee National Forest on the east side of the Cascades all the way from the Canadian border to Naches.

The New York Times reports that Forest Service analysts expect an average forest fire season this year, but that “higher-than-normal fire levels are expected in … the Pacific Northwest.”

“More specifically, the researchers said “very large amounts of fire” are projected for Northern California and small parts of southwest Oregon, coastal areas north of Los Angeles, large portions of the Sierra Nevada, and a huge area of northwestern Texas and eastern New Mexico. Significant amounts of fire that are considered “above normal” are predicted for most of Texas and the Southwest, many parts of Oregon and eastern Washington, and northern Montana.

Longview Fibre has also closed their 600,000 acres in both states, the Seattle Times reports.

For updates on when Weyerhaeuser might reopen their lands, call (888) 741-5403 in Oregon and (866) 636-6531 in Washington.

Bios Puzzled By SW WA Elk Hoof Problems

July 29, 2009

As if wildlife managers didn’t have enough problems with the St. Helens elk herd already, large numbers of the animals are now suffering from deformed hooves — the worst cases slowly starving to death — and biologists are not sure what’s causing it.

“It’s not classic hoof rot that we see in cattle and sheep,” Kristin Mansfield, DVM, a state Department of Fish & Wildlife vetrinarian, told Northwest Sportsman today. “And we’ve ruled out underlying systemic disease and toxins in the environment.”

It’s affecting all age classes and both sexes too — yearlings, cows, bulls. For photos, see pages 2 and 3 of this thread on hunting-washington.com.

Mansfield will present her findings as well as look for ideas from fellow wildlife biologists on what’s behind the mystery at a Wildlife Disease Association conference next week in Blaine, Wash.

WHILE PART OF THE 10,000-plus-strong St. Helens herd is coping with less and less summer forage in the mountains, this new problem is striking elk in the lowlands along I-5. And though scattered reports of elk with hoof problems have come in for decades across the state, they’ve taken off the past three years here, says state wildlife biologist Pat Miller.

“We are very, very much concerned about this, but are at the beginning stages of the investigation,” he said.

Limping elk have been seen everywhere from Centralia on the north to Woodland on the south as well as west in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, he says, and there have also been a few reports from “upland industrial forest habitat.”

Affected animals have “long and deformed hooves which slough off the horn of the hoof, exposing the bone. It’s very painful to walk around,” Mansfield says. “They’re often emaciated and nutritionally compromised. What happens is they starve to death.”

Eighty percent of the herds observed by biologists last winter had affected members,  and within those groups, anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of the individuals showed signs of the problem, according to Mansfield.

“It’s really heartbreaking to see these herds,” she says.

While WDFW looked at the issue two years ago, numerous Southwest Washington hunters reported seeing or shooting limping or deformed elk last fall, and so earlier this year, the state began their new investigation.

“Last March we euthanized some animals affected by it and did more testing,” says Mansfield.

That led them to rule out typical hoof rot, disease and pollution, but she says it could be related to copper or selenium deficiencies, a result either of farmers’ treatments of their fields — liming, spraying — or uptake by plants of those minerals in the soils. She says that acid rain in Europe has been shown to affect mineral levels in plants.

The St. Helens herd has been in the news in recent years. Elk around Mt. St. Helens have seen their forage base reduced as the forest around the volcano continues to grow back in since the May 18, 1980 eruption. Two of the past four winters have seen winterkills of 63 and 150 animals on just a portion of the state’s Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area, known as the Mudflow. WDFW has fed the herd that gathers in the isolated deep-mountain valley hay the past two winters, as well as expanded permit hunts.

And in urban areas, growing numbers of elk have become problematic for golf courses and orchards. New this year, modern firearm and muzzleloader hunters can take antlerless elk in the Stella game unit around Longview and Kelso; previously, it was a 3-point minimum.

AS THE COUNTDOWN TO THIS year’s seasons begins — bow kicks off Sept. 8 — the official advice to hunters who may find an elk in their sights here is to “use good common sense,” says Miller.

“Limper? No. Hoof rot on the leg? Don’t eat the bad part,” he says. “These are wild animals. We don’t make guarantees on the quality of the meat.”

Local archers, riflemen and muzzleloaders may also hear soon from WDFW.

“We are conducing a hunter survey of the affected area,” says Mansfield.

It will help determine the geographical extent of the problem, and, repeated over several years, will tell the agency whether the problem is growing or not, she says.

July 29, 2009

The sign at the exhibition center next to the Seahawks stadium reads “Pink 9/15.”

No, no, no, that’s all wrong, I thought when I walked by it this morning. The pinks will be leaping and splashing everywhere from Sequim to Seattle much earlier than that – more like mid-August. But, yeah, mid-September will be pretty good up in the rivers too.

Then I realized the sign was not advertising this year’s run of those humpbacked darlings of Puget Sound, rather the singer of the same name.

Hmmm, that’s right, I thought, there is that whole parallel universe outside of Northwest fishing and hunting.

But pinks actually are rock stars here in Puget Sound. Indeed, this year’s run is forecast to be the largest since the Beattles cast a line into Seattle’s Elliott Bay.

(OK, history sticklers, yes, John, Paul, George and Ringo did their angling from the Edgewater Hotel in 1964, but this year’s 5.1 million is the most since 1963’s monster run of 7.4 million.)

Now, if you’re a Western Washingtonian who’s been here since at least summer 2007, you are most likely intimately familiar with this smallest member of Pacific salmon that returns in truly prodigious numbers in odd years. But if you’re an Oregonian or a Northwest newbie, a wee bit of explanation may be in order. Professor Humpy, give the folks a little Pinkology 101.

First of all, those giant humps on males’ backs are not a result of our fantastic efforts at fouling the holy hell out of Puget Sound and environs. No need to roar back down I-5 screaming about the mutant fish we grow up here, that big ol’ bump evolved naturally well before PCBs came on the scene.

Secondly, no fish species makes it easier to remember what color lures you should buy. While you may not be comfortable with the color, up here, loggers, machinists and just about everyone else in the know has no problem loading up with enough pink gear to make the queer folk up on Capitol Hill envious. You would look fabulous with some too, sailor.

And thirdly, think dill. With this year’s bumper run, urban farmer that I am, I’m growing a bumper crop of the stuff. It goes great with the fish’s delicate, light pink meat.

For more lessons in all things pink, please see pages 79-84 and 116-117 of our August issue.

Also inside our fourth-straight 132-page issue in a row, big pieces on how to hunt Northeast Washington’s unusual elk herd as well as Eastern Washington bear. South of the Columbia, we preview Cascades deer and elk, as well as Southwest Oregon bear hunts.

With a bounty of salmon headed for Buoy 10, we put together a big package on how to waylay some of the 700,000 coho and 500,000 Chinook expected back to the mouth of the Columbia.

And while we sing the praises of five postindustrial fisheries in the lowlands of Puget Sound and the Willamette Valley, we also head into the mountains and reveal a rainbow trout fishery deep in the wilds of the North Cascades!

You’ll find us at convenience stores throughout Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho, Wal-Marts and Fred Meyers in the Evergreen and Beaver states as well as Schucks, Auto Zones and select bookstores!

July 29, 2009

FISHING FOR THE VIADUCT

SEATTLE—With the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle’s waterfront slated to down late next decade, a group of local fishermen has its eyes on the girders and guardrails for a whole new structure: underwater reefs for ailing Puget Sound rockfish and lingcod.

TEAR THE MOTHER DOWN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

TEAR THE MOTHER DOWN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Rob Tobeck recently came up with the green idea to recycle clean parts of the elevated highway for marine fish habitat instead of sending it to the landfill.

“I’ve always been frustrated with the lack of good bottomfishing you’d think we would have in Puget Sound,” explains the former center for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington State University, as well as Coastal Conservation Association member. “I’ve seen in Florida where they’ve taken old barges and old bridges and that’s where you go fish.”

Lined up behind him is Bear Holmes, a 62-year-old fourth-generation Washingtonian who chairs CCA Washington’s Puget Sound Marine Enhancement Committee and who admits to personally aiding in the decline of those stocks in his younger days. He wants his grandchildren to one day enjoy that same quality of fishing he did in the day.

Also on the field, Highline Community College’s marine-science and South Seattle CC’s trade-training programs. What started out as a small project by students at the former school to study marine colonization at a lab on Puget Sound has turned into a scientific experiment with potentially worldwide implications, according to Holmes. Right now, the National Marine Fisheries Service is putting together a proposal to sink a dozen 100-foot-long, 15-foot-high reefs of various types, some made at the second college, and figure out whether they help restore bottomfish populations.

On the sidelines are the state departments of Transportation, Fish & Wildlife and Natural Resources. Holmes says DOT wants to know what viaduct materials would be needed. While bridges and roads have been used to create reefs elsewhere, with the focus on cleaning up polluted Puget Sound, “We don’t want to put something out there that will create harm,” such as road surfaces, he says.

OFFICIALLY, FISH & WILDLIFE is “in the evaluation stage,” says Greg Bargmann, a marine manager in Olympia. The agency got out of the reef-building business years ago because they weren’t sure the structures were effective.

However, Holmes says those the state created off of Alki, Blake Island and the KVI radio tower have been “extremely productive.”

Which is not to say that he wants to litter the bottom of the Sound with concrete. Holmes is very cognizant of the fact that what might be featureless, sandy bottom to some anglers is others’ crabbing, geoducking and flatfishing honey holes. And with staff reductions and added workload at DFW, he wants to move forward cautiously and purposefully.

Indeed, with a new tunnel to be bored through the heart of Seattle, slowly and carefully are watchwords all around.

“This is a long-term deal, not throwing concrete off the side of a barge and fishing it the next year – that’s not the idea of this thing,” says Holmes.

For the study, reef balls could be deployed “in the next couple years” with material from the viaduct first becoming available in 2012. And if NMFS finds artificial reefs do indeed help Puget Sound bottomfish, the bulk of the viaduct would not become available until 2016, a year after the tunnel is opened for traffic.

AS IT STANDS, Holmes and others at CCA are excited about early support for the proposal.

“Everywhere we’re turning, it seems like everyone wants to help us,” says Tom Pollack, a member who works at Sportco (253-922-2222) in Fife.

And they hope more anglers and local businesses come on board. Because of the amount of raw materials needed to make concrete forms, Holmes is hoping a corporation might team up with the trades program at South Seattle CC, where he’s director of facilities.

And he’s asking fishermen to contact DOT.

“We would like them to know that people are behind the idea. The more they hear, the more they know there’s support for this,” he says. “Send an email to SDEIS2ScopingComments@wsdot.wa.gov and ask them to consider using the Viaduct for artificial reef-making materials as part of the project.” – Andy Walgamott

Apply Now For Eder Ranch Deer Hunt

July 29, 2009

WDFW is again offering rifle, bow and blackpowder hunters the chance to chase mule deer and whitetail on a 6,000-acre ranch near the Canadian border.

Fifteen hunters will be drawn for the hunt on the Eder Ranch, just east of Oroville. Though a unit of the state’s Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in Okanogan County, it has been managed for quality hunting experiences.

To apply, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/special_hunts/drawings/deer_hunt_scotchcreek.html  or call the department’s Ephrata (509-754-4624) or Olympia (360-902-2515) offices.

The deadline to apply is midnight Aug. 19.

If you’re drawn, hunts are held in each weapon type’s general season.

Are Pink Salmon Just ‘Nasty Skanks’?

July 28, 2009

Of course they’re not, but that’s what a now-former fishing partner of mine called my favorite salmon species of all time.

“If Kings are the Bald Eagles of the salmon world, and silvers are the Peregrine Falcon, Pinks must be the inner-city pidgeons,” Sky-Guy writes even as some 5.3 million easy-to-catch pinks head back to Puget Sound waters this summer.

The salmonic slander was sparked by the catch late last week of a 5-pound buck. Sky-Guy, aka Ryley Fee of Woodinville, Wash., reports on piscatorialpursuits.com that he thought it was a coho and only  “somewhat reluctantly” kept it for his smoker.

Despite allegedly taking quick care to bleed and ice the fish, and then applying his so-called “best brine” for a whole day, the fish supposedly tasted like “garbage.”

“I spit it out onto the lawn and cursed it like the devil,” Fee told me over the phone not too long ago.

He readily admits to being an “elitist fish snob,” and said online that he was giving away the rest of the pink to a neighbor (I’ve already phoned my folks, who live nearby, telling them not to open the door to anyone bearing free fish).

Fee rates pink meat a mere 2 out of 10 compared to Chinook, coho and sockeye, and while I won’t argue that kings, silvers and sox DO indeed taste better than pinks, they’re actually not that bad when caught in the salt or even lower rivers. You don’t have to smoke them either, they’re fine on a BBQ or broiled. Think dill.

But Fee’s further lambastings — “Maybe thats the one thing pinks have going for (or against) them, they only come back every other year… so people forget how SKANKY they are in the interim….” has led to a five-page thread, snarky comments as well as defenses of the smallest of all West Coast salmon species:

“DEE LEE CIOUS,” wrote cheapskate.

“Nice vittles,” added Brewer.

“All this smack talk about the stinky pinkies. There fun to catch, and OK on the grill. Honey and Yoshida’s terriaki sauce makes them a decent eat. Better than coming home empty handed and having to tell your wife, who has been gripping about taking care of the kid all day by herself, that you came up skunked,” defended Uglybugger.

“P.S. Try smoking the meat next time instead of the sperm sacks. It tastes better,” taunted Addicted.

“Didn’t yo momma never teach ya to not put crab bait in ya mouth boy?” preached stlhead.

“for eating: pinks are a waste of time as tablefare. Ever wonder why the commies don’t bother with them. One summer on my high school friends dads purse seiner, we opened up the net and let a load of pinks go as they didn’t want to mess with humpies and get back to chasing more $$$ silvers instead. The only anglers who appreciate the humpies as tablefare are anglers who can’t catch much else in the way of salmonoids for the BBQ. But the WDFW touts the pink run all the way, desperate for some good fishing news while the commericals probably just laugh at how gullible the 90% sportsanglers are. 10%-ters don’t waste time keeping pinks for the BBq or for eating,” posted MAVsled.

“My name is 4Salt and I admit with not that much shame that I like catching chrome pinks with trout rods in tidewater. I don’t eat them… but I have in the past and when well taken care of and smoked properly they tasted just fine. They bite… they fight… there’s a sh!tload of ’em and they beat the hell outta catchin’ bass. I’ll be tossin’ the pink hoochie jig on my ultra-light in the lower Snohomish in a few weeks with the 10,000 others that’ll be there too and I won’t even be thinkin’ twice,” says 4Salt.

While someone by the name Rotten Chum started to get a little more excited in his defense of the venerable humpbacked salmon, Uglybugger brought the thread back around, pointing out, “Not speaking for the whole crowd here, but a vast majority of the people here are just talking smack … This kind of smack talk happens exactly this time on odd numbered years. Good fun.”

Indeed, good fun. I think I’ve heard the same sentiments every other year since elementary school as pinks flood Puget Sound rivers, far outnumbering the glamour species plus chums.

And if you’ve never tasted pinks, our July and August issues are chock-full of info on where and how to catch this year’s huge run. We’re on Auto Trader racks at convenience store as well as newsstands at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and some grocery stores. Pick up a copy, catch a pink and decide for yourself whether you’re with Fee or me.

July 28, 2009

Alaskan Reel Affair Charters: www.reelaffair.com

Denny’s Guide Service and Bed & Breakfast: www.sitkafishcharters.com

Sitka Fly Fishing: www.sitkaflyfishing.com

Glacier Bear Lodge: www.glacierbearlodge.com

Monti Bay Lodge: www.montibaylodge.com

Rocky Point Resort: www.rockypointresortak.com

Yakutat Charter Boat Company: www.alaska-charter.com

Woxof Lodge: www.fishwoxof.com

Saltery Lodge: www.salterylodge.com/nw

Bear Valley Lodge: www.bearvalleylodgealaska.com

Explore Alaska Charters: www.explorealaskacharters.com

Millers Landing: www.millerslandingak.com

July 28, 2009

Charleston Marina: www.charlestonmarina.com

Oregon Coast Visitors Association:  www.visittheoregoncoast.com

Lane County Tourism: www.travellanecounty.org

Central Oregon Coast:  www.coastvisitor.com

Oregon Beach Vacations: www.oregonbeachvacations.com

Gold Beach: www.goldbeach.org

Big K Guest Ranch & Guide Service: www.big-k.com

Dockside Charters:  www.docksidedepoebay.com

Garibaldi Charters: www.garibaldicharters.com

Prowler Charters: www.prowlercharters.com

Secret Island Sport Fshing: www.secretislandfishing.com

Tidewind Sport Fishing: www.tidewindsportfishing.com

July 28, 2009

Duval Point Lodge: www.duvalpointlodge.com

Big Spring Resort: www.bigspringresort.com

Legacy Lodge: www.legacylodge.com

Oak Bay Marine Group: www.obmg.com

Ole’s Hakai Pass: www.ole.ca

Qualicum Rivers & Winter Harbour Resorts: www.qualicumrivers.com

Rivers Inlet Sportsmans Club: www.riversinlet.com

Queen Charlotte Lodge: www.queencharlottelodge.com

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

July 28, 2009

UPDATED WEDNESDAY, 1 P.M. From corner to corner, you’ll find fishing action all around the Beaver State. Here are highlights from ODFW’s latest Recreation Report:

MARINE ZONE

  • A coldwater upwelling event pushed tuna farther offshore last week and put salmon and rockfish off the bite. If weather forecasts hold true, ocean conditions should improve fishing by Friday.
  • Sport ocean salmon fishing opened June 20 south of Cape Falcon and June 28 between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point (Wash.) Visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon/Regulations/OceanSport2009.asp for season details.
  • The summer all-depth season Pacific halibut starts Aug. 7 off the central Oregon coast and the Columbia River.
  • A few halibut are still being caught inside the 40-fathom line on the central coast. This fishery continues to be open seven days a week until a separate quota of 14,407 pounds is attained or Oct. 31, which ever comes first.
  • Anglers had a low success rate with lingcod and rockfish last week.
  • In most Oregon ports last week crabbers averaged between about three crab, with crabbers out of Charleston, Winchester Bay and Pacific City getting an average of six.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Summer steelhead is reaching a peak in the lower Columbia River, and boat and bank anglers are catching them in near record numbers.
  • Fall chinook and coho opens Saturday, Aug. 1.
  • Walleye fishing is improving near Troutdale and in the gorge..

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • BROWNLEE RESERVOIR: Crappie fishing has slowed but night fishing with lights is the most productive. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white. If fishing during the day for crappie, the fish are deep with a very light bite. Catfish angling is good.  Bass angling has been fairly slow this year.  The water level is 15 feet below full.  Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • OXBOW RESERVOIR: Crappie fishing is fair.  Catfish angling is good.  Bass fishing is slow-fair.
  • HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Crappie fishing has slowed from a few weeks ago, but may pick up after the spawn.  There have also been water fluctuations in the last week which may have turned the bite off.  Bass fishing has been slow.  Fishing for 12 inch catfish has been good with some large fish being caught as well. Trolling for trout is fair-good.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Anglers are catching summer steelhead on the lower 25 miles of the Deschutes River.
  • Taylor Lake is a great spot to catch carp with flies; look for carp in the shallows as water temperatures warm to summer temperatures.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • With quite of few of the lowland lakes warming up, consider heading up the mountains to Laird and other high-elevation lakes where the weather cooler but the trout fishing is still hot
  • Chinook fishing on the lower Rogue continues to be good with anglers averaging one fish per boat.
  • Fishing for rockfish and greenling in the lower Coos Bay estuary has been good.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • July is a good time to get into the high lakes to do some trout fishing. Trails are free of snow and the fish are active. Remember to take mosquito repellant.
  • Prospects are good for chinook and steelhead on the tributaries of the mid and upper Willamette.
  • Summer steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River.
  • Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.
  • A few summer steelhead and spring chinook are being caught on the Sandy River

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Spring chinook and summer steelhead are available the Nestucca and Tillamook basins. Prospects are fair as water conditions are low and clear. Fish early for best results.
  • Angling for sea-run cutthroat in tidewater areas should be improving.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Water temperatures in Ana Reservoir stay fairly consistent during the warm summer months, making it a good option when other reservoirs start to wilt in the heat.
  • Crappie fishing off the docks at Wolf Creek and Unity reservoirs has been good.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • After recent population surveys, redband trout populations appear to be healthier than in recent years; good fishing is expected throughout the summer.
  • Anglers are catching summer steelhead on the lower 25 miles of the Deschutes River.
  • Taylor Lake is a great spot to catch carp with flies; look for carp in the shallows as water temperatures warm to summer temperatures.

SW WA Fishing Report

July 28, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.  Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 440 summer-run steelhead adults, 148 spring Chinook adults, 25 jacks, 248 Chinook mini-jacks, one chum salmon and two cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released 74 spring Chinook adults and 21 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge near Packwood and 174 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.


River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,570 cubic feet per second with a visibility of 14 feet on Monday, July 27.

Drano Lake – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 1.7 steelhead per rod.  However, nearly 2/3 of the fish caught were wild fish that had to be released.

White Salmon River – Bank anglers at the mouth are catching summer run steelhead with half the catch being hatchery fish.  28 watercraft were counted here yesterday (Sunday July 26) morning and no parking room was available along SR 141.  No boats were sampled but sporadic catches were reported.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,329 bank anglers with 518 steelhead, 6 jacks and 1 adult Chinook, and  1 sockeye.  276 boat anglers (124 boats) had 121 steelhead and 2 jack and 1 adult Chinook.  Just over half the steelhead caught were kept while all adult Chinook had to be released.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers off the White Salmon River are catching steelhead.  22 boats were counted there yesterday (Sunday July 26) morning.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

John Day Pool – Light effort and no catch observed.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – Charter boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 2 rods while private boaters averaged one per every 3.5 rods.  Bank anglers were not sampled.  43% of the fish caught were keeper size.

The states may review fishery results from the recreational sturgeon fishery below Wauna at the July 29 hearing.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 85 – Generally light effort and catch.

WALLEYE & BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers are catching some walleye in the Camas/Washougal area.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 1.5 walleye per rod.  The majority of the fish were kept.

TROUT

Mineral Lake – Planted with 4,770 half-pound rainbows and 3,555 catchable size browns July 20-22.

Mayfield Lake – Scheduled to be planted with 5,000 catchable size rainbows this week.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer

July 27, 2009

Joseph Yabu, a surfperch addict, catches redtails like Buzz Ramsey catches steelhead. And while his standard rig looks complex, it’s actually pretty simple, though there are some tricks to know.

For starters, the 40-pound leader between the barrel swivel and pyramid sinker is passed through both bead-McMahon Swivel sets three times apiece to keep each combo locked in place. The upper should be about 4 to 5 inches below the barrel swivel, the second 18 inches below that; 20 inches should separate the second from the sinker.

All the swivels should be black because Yabu doesn’t want perch nibbling red or shiny chrome materials and giving him false hits.

Perch are not leaders shy, so the hooks should be on 6-inch leaders of 50-pound test so they will stand out rather than hug the mainline.

Yabu uses a 4-ounce sinker because if the sinker is moving around too much, you’ll need to reel it in until it hits one of the underwater troughs where it will stick.

He prefers to bait up with a large sand crab, but 2-inch Berkley Gulp! Sandworms in camo color also work. – Larry Ellis

August The Bonus Round For NW Anglers

July 27, 2009

This is still the West Coast, site of a much publicized salmon fishing failure, perpetually ailing runs and outlandishly off run forecasts, right?

Well, yes, but for the rest of this summer, we’re going to be up to our gills in so many salmon that state fishery managers are bumping some limits to twice, even three times usual levels.

Of course, the coho and silvers must still come in, but starting August 1, Washington’s Lower Columbia River tribs switch to six adult hatchery coho limits, and two marine areas in northern Puget Sound open for up to four pink salmon a day.

Screw the little blue cooler, you’ll need the 120-quart size the rest of this summer!

And you can count on Northwest Sportsman to help you fill that cooler too, with our big meaty pieces on Puget Sound pinks in the July and August issues and coho every month from June through October.

Bonus limits are already in play at Sekiu and Port Angeles, which saw 100-pink catches last week, and they begin this weekend in Areas 8-1 and 8-2. They will both see somewhere around 3.5 million humpies the next two months.

The mega-coho limits are in the fishing pamphlet, but to make it even more clear, WDFW fired off a press release just a bit ago.

Couched as an effort to aid wild-salmon recovery, six-fish limits are in play on eight tribs thanks to an expected return of 700,000 coho past Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River, the biggest forecast since 2001.

To help keep hatchery fish from shacking up with wild ones, you’ll be able to bonk up to six fin-clipped adult coho on the Cowlitz, Elochoman, Grays (including the West Fork), Kalama, Lewis (including the North Fork), Toutle (including the Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers, plus the Klickitat. Last year, only the Cowlitz had a six-salmon daily limit.

Two Chinook can be part of the six-fish limit, but rules vary by river.

Other bonus fisheries include proposed September silver fisheries off the Oregon coast and on four wild-coho rivers.

If you’ll recall, that same stretch of coast was hard hit by last year’s salmon fishing disaster. But forget about that for now — and forget the botched Columbia spring Chinook run forecast, never mind lower king runs on the Oregon Coast or the woe that is Lake Washington sockeye.

Summer 2009 means big limits. Go on, pick up your bonus.

Wolves Elude State Trappers

July 27, 2009

Attempts to capture members of a suspected pack of wolves in Northeast Washington’s Pend Oreille County have so far been unsuccesful, but efforts continue.

According to WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane, teams have been out since last Thursday.

She says biologists are having to take a “couple extra steps” while trying to trap the wolves with leghold devices because of another large predator species in the area: grizzlies. The big bears might “trash” the traps if they’re caught in one, Luers says.

It’s still possible the Pend Oreille pack might be part hybrid, but a hair sample from at least one suspected member caught on camera rolling in a bait station came back from a DNA lab as pure gray wolf.

Another image from a remote camera shows pups, Luers says.

If confirmed, it would be Washington’s second known pack of wolves, joining the Lookout Pack near Twisp, which had another litter of pups this spring. The Pend Oreille pack won’t be named until confirmed as gray wolves.

We’ll have far more on Canus lupus in our September edition — including why a planned wolf hunt in Idaho may backfire on Washington.

NWS Ad Rep Comes Back High On Hakai

July 27, 2009

Editor’s note: Northwest Sportsman ad manager Brian Lull recently spent a week on Canada’s west coast, catching numerous salmon. Here’s his report:

The coho are coming, the coho are coming!

Northwest Sportsman just got back from a trip to Hakai Pass, British Columbia, with Joe’s Salmon Lodge www.joessalmonlodge.com . In a nutshell, fishing was back to normal by BC standards, which is to say, consistent limits and smiles for all.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN AD SALES MANAGER BRIAN LULL WITH A HAKAI PASS COHO. (BRIAN LULL)

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN AD SALES MANAGER BRIAN LULL WITH A HAKAI PASS COHO. (BRIAN LULL)

Ole’s Hakai Pass and Oak Bay Marine Group’s MV Marabell also report spectacular fishing this month.

To put things in perspective, last season was slow for many fisheries on the coast and BC was no exception. Yes, there were bright flurries of action, but for the most part, the season lacked consistent fishing.

So far, 2009 has been exactly the opposite. What is absolutely amazing about this year’s fishing is the size of the coho this early in the season. We caught and released numerous fish under 8 pounds and came home with two eight-fish possession limits weighing over 100 pounds in two fish boxes!

The fish we kept averaged over 10 pounds. The biggest was 18 pounds. This is what one expects to see for coho in late August/early September, but not in July.

In my 10 years of fishing BC and Alaska, I have never seen coho this big so early in the season. Obviously they are finding richer pastures than previous years and we can hope to see some 20 slabs in our local Washington and Oregon fisheries come September!

Wallet Alert: License Fees Jacking Up

July 24, 2009

If you’re a Washington sportsman who still needs to buy a Western Washington pheasant punchcard, a hunting license — anything — you want to get to your nearest license dealer today or tomorrow if you want to save money.

Starting Sunday, July 26, fees for all licenses and fees rise 10 percent, and Western Washington pheasant licenses jump from $39.50 to $75 for adult hunters.

State legislators and Governor Gregoire approved the hikes; the state Department of Fish & Wildlife is facing a $30 million budget shortfall. These and other fees, such as a second-rod option, should generate $11 million in revenue.

Before Legislators came through, the agency was actually considering closing its Western Washington pheasant farm and buying birds from private groups — and only half as many, according to upland game manager Mick Cope. But the bump in pheasant fees plus 10 percent surcharge will move the ringneck program out of the red permanently.

“That revenue should keep the program functioning as a self-contained unit rather than being subsidized by other programs,” he says.

The state’s pens in Chehalis raise 40,000 birds a year.

Though it’s still unofficial, the folks who’ve already bought their Western Washington pheasant punchcard and small-game license — about 1,000 — most likely won’t have to buy the new $75 license, Cope says. Their card and small-game license will be all they need for this season, he says.

SnoCo Man Named A DFW Vol Of The Year

July 24, 2009

He’s planted fish, built docks and literally wrote the book on Snohomish County angling.

And now after 50 years of work benefiting fish and recreation, Bob Heirman has been named a Volunteer of the Year by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

“There’s nobody that deserves that more,” says Mark Spada, a fellow member of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club as well as a tackle rep for Yakima Bait. “And for a guy in his 70s, he still does it all.”

“Coho fry plants, trout plants, building docks, work parties — whatever our club does, it’s always around Bob,” Spada says.

Heirman’s accomplishments were also recognized by Phil Anderson, interim WDFW director.

“He has worked closely as a volunteer and group leader on numerous WDFW projects that include lake and stream fish plants, handicapped fish docks construction and maintenance, fish access development and redevelopment, salmon derbies, legislative lobbying, habitat enhancement projects, public speaking, and educational programs in schools and throughout the fish community,” Anderson said, as reported by the Snohomish Times. “His accomplishments are numerous, including the preservation of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Park and Lord’s Hill Park.”

In fact, as this year’s pink salmon run builds in the Snohomish, anglers may find themselves drawn to a wide bend in the river near the burg of Cathcart. Known as Thomas’ Eddy, at one time the area was a gravel mine, then a cattle ranch and was going to be developed for housing.

But, led by Heirman, the Snohomish Sportsman Club campaigned to “preserve public access to one of the most popular steelhead fishing spots on the river,” according to Snohomish County Parks & Recreation. Today it’s known as the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy, and is enjoyed by not just anglers but nature walkers, school kids and bird watchers alike.

(Before vehicle access was gated off, yours truly took his old Dodge Charger down onto the flat, then almost couldn’t get back up the steep, rutted path.)

Heirman’s “Snohomish, My Beloved County: An Angler’s Anthology” is “very, very interesting, the history of fishing in Snohomish County for the last 50, 60 years,” notes Spada.

But it’s a sad to compare how things were then to today, says Eric Bell, a resident of the Granite Falls. “They had rivers and streams back then that I drive over everyday that used to be full of salmon and stealhead and I can’t imagine anything living in them.”

Spada adds that Heirman wrote two other books — one on his railroad years, another of poetry — as well as helps out at senior centers.

“He’s one of a kind,” says Spada.

Anglers, hunters and others like Heirman combined to volunteer 134,000 hours of their time last year to WDFW.

Valued at $15 an hour, “That’s 2 million dollars of work that wouldn’t have been done otherwise,” says the agency’s deputy director Joe Stohr in Olympia. “There’s a huge passion for the resources.”

Volunteers spent 35,057 hours working for the Enforcement Program, 14,936 hours with the Wildlife Program and 8,943 hours with the Fish Program. Hunter Ed volunteers tallied over 33,000 hours.

Some of the most biggest efforts were made at the Loo-Wit Wildlife Area at Mt. St. Helens (1,465 hours) and the Issaquah Hatchery (3,362 hours).

Other WDFW volunteers of the year include:

Jerry Ponti, who operates a veterinary clinic east of Spokane, has treated hundreds of wild animals along with pets and livestock over the past 30 years.  Wildlife biologists have long relied on Ponti to care for sick and injured deer, raccoons, eagles, bobcats and other wildlife.

Mike Braaton, of Castle Rock, who has spent hundreds of hours over the past decade planting elk forage, pulling scotch broom and conducting wildlife surveys on WDFW projects at the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area.  A professional mechanic, he has helped to keep project equipment running and has personally secured several grants for work at the wildlife area.

Bill Butler, of Cheney, who first volunteered with WDFW in 1964 and spent more than two decades helping staff at the Spokane Hatchery spawn rainbow trout.  A longtime member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the Bighorn Foundation, he also has coordinated efforts to restore upland game habitat and promote outdoor education.

Charles (“Stan”) Staniforth, of Bellevue, who has tallied thousands of hours leading tours and teaching schoolchildren about salmon at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.  He also helps hatchery staff clean incubation trays, tally fish and maintain the facility.

Organization of the Year: Since the Okanogan Valley Land Council was established in 2002, it has worked with six landowners to protect nearly 2,000 acres of native shrub-steppe and riparian habitat from development by securing easements on the properties.  Using agricultural easements, the land trust also provided similar protection for a 1,025-acre cattle ranch and 600 acres in the Okanogan Highlands.

Educator of the Year: Scott Olson, a principal and instructor at the Tonasket Alternative School, and George Thornton, a teacher with the Oroville School District.  Working together, the two educators engaged their students in a photo-monitoring project, designed to assess environmental changes in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area.  Students developed an understanding of local history, area botany, photography, global positioning system (GPS) skills and other disciplines.

Landowners of the Year include:

Jack Burkhalter, a lifelong resident of Pacific County, who has worked with state fishery managers for 30 years to establish and maintain viable populations of salmon in the various streams flowing through his property.

Richard and Kathy Rice and family, who own a 10,000-acre farm in Douglas County.  The Rice family has worked for the past decade to preserve and improve hundreds of acres of habitat for wildlife, notably Columbian sharp-tailed grouse.

Karen and Tony Spane, who own a 300-acre dairy farm in the Marshland Diking District near Everett.  The Spanes were early supporters of a proposal by the City of Everett to restore a portion of the diking district as chinook salmon habitat, helping others to see the benefits of the project for both salmon and outdoor recreation.

SeaTimes Snake Dam Editorial Makes Rounds

July 24, 2009

An editorial on a new dynamic in the arguments over Snake River dam removal is making the email rounds today.

This morning, the piece by Lance Dickie of the Seattle Times Editorial Board, appeared in my Inbox. It came from a noted Northwest salmon and steelhead angler and was being forwarded to a number of important writers and editors around the region (I was pleased to be included in such good company).

After a short preamble about salmon recovery and federal Judge James Redden, the piece gets right to the change:

“Whether viewed as a threat or remediation, I could not imagine dams being breached. Until now.

Twenty-one community leaders from Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Wash., sent a July 8 letter to their senators and representatives asking to be included in any future assessments of the dams’ status. Any decision directly affects the welfare of residents.”

By the mid-1970s, Lewiston and Clarkston, of course, went from being riverside towns at the junction of the Clearwater and Snake rivers to seaports, basically, thanks/no thanks to four dams and locks on the Snake. But one of the signators, a councilman in the Idaho city, says that promised economic booms from the dams haven’t come about, Dickie reports.

However, that man, Jim Kluss, also says the letter “does not argue for a particular outcome, only that the towns want an informed resolution and recognition they will need significant help adjusting to either choice. The worst option is continued long-term uncertainty,” according to Dickie.

In the background is everything from the recovery of salmon stocks in the Snake and Columbia basin (Redden wrestled with federal agencies throughout the Bush II years) to the economic future of the Lewis & Clark Valley to the Snake reservoirs filling with sediment to even global warming (hydropower’s carbon footprint is just a wee bit smaller than coal-fired plants), Dickie points out.

But with this letter, “the conversation changed.”

We’ll see.

NNWFR: Guy Trying To Catch 2,000 Fish In A Day For A Cause

July 23, 2009

(FRABILL PRESS RELEASE)

Fishing’s “Marathon Man,” Jeff Kolodzinski, will attempt to break his own Guinness World Record for most fish caught in a 24 hour period. Kolodzinski, V.P. of Marketing for Frabill – marquee event sponsor – established the distinctive World Record last year from the bustling docks of Maynard’s on Lake Minnetonka by landing a staggering 1,680 fish. That’s a lifetime’s catch for some. Kolo, as he’s known, did it in one rotation of the earth.

The public is encouraged to watch Kolo outmaneuver the fish – panfish, bass, pike, and the accidental carp – again this year. The man versus fish drama gets underway at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, July 31 and rolls for a solid 24 hours, concluding Saturday morning, or earlier, if he collapses under pressure or from heat exhaustion.

Busting out his precision and unusual European shore-casting tactics, Kolodzinski will once again setup camp just outside Maynard’s outdoor seating area. His techniques are as much an art as they are science. Definitely something anyone who has ever wet-a-line should see.

Kolodzinski is fishing to smash his achievement as well as raise awareness for the “Armed Forces Family Fishing Celebration.” Sponsored by Fishing For Life, Frabill, and the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies Inc., Armed Forces Family Fishing Celebration offers a day on the water for youth with a parent serving overseas, as well as families with a member who has recently returned from deployment. The event takes place Friday, August 21st back at Maynard’s on Lake Minnetonka. (Go to www.fishingforlife.com for times and odetails.)

Kolodzinksi, who previously competed with Team United States in International Shore Fishing Competitions, is enthused about bringing back the Marathon Man. “I am honored to contribute my time and rather whacky talent for these kids to have a day that celebrates fishing and honors their parents and the huge sacrifices they make on a daily basis.”

Fishing For Life (FFL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving youth through organized fishing programs. In 2008, FFL was selected by the National Parks and Recreation Association to serve as one of 30 “ANCHOR AGENCIES” in the U.S. dedicated to promote and engage youth in fishing and boating activities.

FFL coordinates three programs to serve this mission: The “Reel ‘Em In Kids” program collects unwanted rods, reels and tackle and distributes them to underserved youth at lake events and community festivals. “Fish Fair” is an indoor winter fishing carnival. During Fish Fair, youth make jigs and lures; learn about various fish species and their habitats; are exposed to timeless techniques; and are taught sportsmanship. The family event also gives attendees the opportunity to learn more about clubs, organizations, and camps that offer youth fishing programs. Over 1,500 anglers attended Fish Fair this year, including more than 100 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, who even earned rank advancements. Lastly, FFL organizes the “Fish-A-Thon,” a philanthropically driven program to raise money for organizations serving urban youth.

Less Than 80 Kings Caught So Far On Skagit

July 22, 2009

The saying on the Skagit is that you have to put in an hour of fishing for every pound of Chinook you catch. A 30-pounder will take 30 hours, or three solid days on the Northwest Washington river.

But so far, the size of biggest known salmon also equals the total catch of 4-year-or-older kings for recreational anglers: Through the end of the third half-week fishery last Sunday, all of 42 adults and 37 jacks had been landed, according to state fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull in LaConnor.

That’s well behind preseason estimates for the fishery, which is open for the first time since 1993 — but nobody expected a bloodbath either.

“Our catch expectations was only 746 in five weeks of fishing,” Barkdull says. “What’s that? About 190 a week?”

While the run is quite capable of putting out truly monstrous Chinook — there’s a 65-pounder in the freezer of the state hatchery at Marblemount and Barkdull’s seen a dead one on the gravel that might’ve gone 80 pounds — the biggest so far is a 42-pounder, caught out of the North Fork, below Mount Vernon, according to Dick Carpenter at Master Marine (360-336-2176).

While tribal anglers have been somewhat focused elsewhere, as a whole the three tribes working the fishery have landed under 400, according to Barkdull.

He never expected a red-hot fishery, but its performance so far hasn’t been “real impressive.” And with “ridiculously good” fishing off the west coast of Vancouver Island, there’s a hint of worry about whether the Skagit’s forecast of 24,000 summer/fall kings will be met.

“Hopefully not all of them are getting caught,” Barkdull says.

Another Weekend For Estuary Sturgeon

July 21, 2009

Washington and Oregon managers met today and approved another weekend of sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River estuary.

Fishing will be open this Friday, July 24, through Sunday, July 26, from the Wauna Powerlines downstream to Buoy 10.

There are an estimated 2,500 sturgeon available in the 15,000-fish quota. Managers also opened the past two weekends for fishing.

Hillsboro Team Wins Newport Leg Of Oregon Tuna Classic

July 21, 2009

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

Friday July 17th 58 teams rolled into Newport for the first leg of the Allstate Oregon Tuna Classic. Teams from California, Idaho, Washington and Oregon were in town competing for the top prizes and the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts will help feed the hungry in Lincoln County.

The event was a first for this port since it’s been cancelled three previous years due to bad weather and ocean conditions, leaving many to wonder if this would be another year of no fishing.

The Thursday announcement to fish came after the afternoon update from NOAA for the offshore forecast for Saturday’s event. A marginal forecast at best but many of the teams had fished in the projected conditions before and knew they would have a bumpy ride out at daybreak.

Saturday morning Port Captain Walter Chuck went through the roll call while 56 teams sat patiently a mile offshore in a thick blanket of fog with only a half mile of visibility. At precisely 6 a.m. a mass of boats bolted through the fog and sloppy seas. Without a current SST (Sea Surface temperature) most boat headed for their favorite fishing spots many going west or northwest to traditional spots such as Tuna Town or the 61 spot. Team Pro Sports Center from northern California took the gamble and went south to Heceta Bank, some 65 miles to the south, knowing they would be bucking a nasty north wind coming back. The gamble was a gutsy move and yielded a dozen fish but nothing worthy of making the podium.

It was scratch fishing at best and many of the experienced fishermen were struggling just to get the required 5 fish needed to get on the board. Quite a few teams came back frustrated with no fish. The north winds blowing for the past week had the fish scattered and experience didn’t play as much a role as being in the right spot at the right time with a fish willing to bite. By the opening of the 2:00pm weigh-in it became obvious many boats were staying out longer trying to catch fish. Many of the best tuna fishermen were lucky if they landed 8-10 fish. A huge contrast to the ODFW reporting of Oregon anglers landing over 10,000 tuna in the previous week when the winds and seas were out of the south but that’s tuna fishing off the Oregon coast in July. It can change dramatically in just one week to the next.

The first boat eventually arrived at 2:40 pm and slowly others started making their way back into port. By the 4:00 pm cut off for the weigh in there was more than 20 boats backed up waiting for their chance to weigh in their 5 heaviest fish and a chance at the top prize of $3,000.

By the end of the day a large crowd had gathered to watch as 41 exhausted teams turned in fish and slowly put their boats away for the evening.

Team Albacore Section from Hillsboro took the top honors with a 5 fish total of 126.8 lbs. Second place went to Charleston Oregon Tuna Classic Port Captain Jim Pex and his team Offshore Adventure Charters with 126.8 lbs. Team Secret Island rounded up the top three spots with 120.1 lbs.

The Biggest fish, at 35 1/8”, was turned in by Team Seelicious and the exotics pot was won by Team Reel Song with their 14.2 lb Yellowtail. A Blue Fin tuna was landed but the team failed to enter the exotics side pot leaving Team Reel Song as the easy winner. The odds of landing a Blue Fin were pretty good considering in the last 2 weeks more than 40 Blue Fin had been landed off Oregon, an unusually high statistic for this early in the summer.

At the end of the evening, more than 400 participants watched as the Oregon Tuna Classic handed over 4,105 pounds of tuna to Nancy Smith from the Lincoln County Food Share.

The weather was not nice but “Reelin In Hunger” as it’s appropriately phrased for this year’s derbies was not slowed down as the Oregon Tuna Classic kicked off its 5th season with a huge success. The next leg of the four event season will be in two weeks when the teams roll into Ilwaco Washington on August 1st.

For more information on these events log onto www.oregontunaclassic.com or contact Oregon Tuna Classic Chairman Del Stephens at 503-539-0006.

Elk Hunt Opens Aug. 1 On Idaho’s Palouse

July 21, 2009

Headline on our brand-new August issue’s cover: Hunting Season Is Here!

While we mainly mean bear season in Washington in Oregon, over in Idaho, August 1 also marks the start of the “green fields” antlerless elk hunt.

Meant to help landowners reduce crop damage by elk, these early hunts are open to everyone in six elk management zones – Palouse, Salmon, Lemhi, Beaverhead and Pioneer – but only outside the National Forest boundary and within one mile of cultivated fields.

As you can imagine, not only is summer heat a factor to consider, but knowing where you are as well. According to note 2 in IDFG’s general big-game regulations, the forest boundary isn’t just any old boundary in the federal woods (inholdings, etc.), but a “legislatively set” line. The agency advises hunters to consult official USFS maps for where that is.

Idaho’s Hunt Planner and Access Yes programs may then help you figure out accessible public land nearby, or ask farmers for permission to hunt their cultivated ground.

You must also have a valid 2009 Idaho hunting license and tag in your possession for this hunt.

On the Washington side of the Palouse, a planned elk hunt at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge fell through this year. The huge reserve southwest of Cheney attracts large numbers of elk before and during hunting season. They damage surrounding crops as well as aspen communities in the refuge.

Adenovirus Outbreak Suspected In SW OR Deer Deaths

July 21, 2009

Just a month after a woman was convicted of “harassing” dozens of bears in the Yachats Valley, backyard feeding may be leading to the biggest blacktail deer die-off in Southwest Oregon since 2002, reports the Roseburg Mail-Tribune.

According to Mark Freeman’s article, adenovirus is likely to blame. It’s a “highly contagious, quick-killing disease” that can be transmitted “as easily as breathing air from an infected animal, so water buckets and grain piles placed by well-intentioned landowners can turn into viral hot-spots that can kill groups of deer in days.”

The outbreak is in the Jacksonville, Gold Hill and Colestine Valley areas, as well as Bend, in Eastern Oregon, Freeman reports. In 2002, adenovirus killed anywhere from hundreds to 1,000 blacktail in Southwest Oregon.

“Congregating deer through feeding is just going to spread it,” Collin Gillin, ODFW vetrinarian told Freeman. “It’s exacerbating the issue. It’s not helping … The best thing humans can do is, don’t do anything to bring deer together.”

While the article makes clear it’s largely not illegal to feed wildlife in Oregon, Karen Noyes was barred from returning to her home in the Yachats Valley for three years for feeding bears.

SW WA Fishing Report

July 21, 2009

Report courtesy Joe Hymer

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Grays River (including West Fork) and Elochoman rivers – New for 2009Open to fishing for hatchery fall chinook and hatchery coho beginning August 1 (used to open September 1).  Wild Chinook (adults and jacks) must be released on both rivers. On the Grays River, all Chinook must be adipose and/or ventral fin clipped to be retained.

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers are catching steelhead in the Mission Bar to Blue Creek area.  Opens to fishing for Chinook and hatchery coho beginning August 1.  Wild Chinook jacks must be released.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 298 summer-run steelhead adults, 287 spring Chinook adults, 58 jacks, 374 Chinook mini-jacks, two sockeye salmon, one chum salmon and two cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 133 spring Chinook adults and 43 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam on the upper Cowlitz River, 28 spring Chinook adults and eight jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge near Packwood., and 338 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,340 cubic feet per second with a visibility of 15 feet on Monday, July 20.

Kalama River – No report on steelhead angling success.  Opens to fishing for hatchery fall Chinook and hatchery coho beginning August 1.  New for 2009: Beginning August 1, all wild Chinook (adults and jacks) must be released.

Lewis River (including North Fork) – No report on steelhead angling success. Opens for hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho beginning August 1.  New for 2009: Stray hatchery (adipose clipped) fall Chinook may be retained through September.    In addition, anglers will be able to use a floating device on the North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek (located below the salmon hatchery) to Colvin Creek (located upstream from the salmon hatchery) through September (restriction started in August last year).

Wind River from boundary line/markers to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls  – No report on steelhead angling success.  Opens to fishing for fall Chinook and hatchery coho August 1.  Release wild chinook jacks and wild coho.  Anti-snagging rule will be in effect through October.

Drano Lake – Steelhead action is beginning to heat up.  Including fish released, boat anglers averaged about ½ steelhead per rod.  A dozen boats were counted here yesterday (July 19) around noon.   The fall salmon season opens August 1.  Wild Chinook jacks and wild coho must be released. The anti-snagging rule will be in effect through December.

White Salmon River – A few steelhead anglers were sampled but they had no catch.  The fall salmon season opens August 1.  Wild Chinook jacks and wild coho must be released.  From the powerhouse downstream, the anti-snagging rule will be in effect through December.

Klickitat River – Some steelhead are being caught.  The fall salmon season opens August 1.   Any Chinook or coho (adipose fin clipped or not) may be kept. Up to 2 adult Chinook may be retained.  From the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream, the anti-snagging rule will be in effect through January.

New for fall 2009 – Beginning August 1, up to 6 hatchery coho may be retained on all lower Columbia tributaries with hatchery programs including Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers.

Buoy 10Opens to fishing for fall Chinook and hatchery coho August 1.  Barbed hooks are allowed.  Fishery catch expectations is 10,700 chinook and 119,100 coho.

Through August, the daily limit will be 2 salmon or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Only 1 chinook may be retained.

Beginning September 1, up to 3 hatchery adult coho or hatchery steelhead may be retained.  Of these, only 2 may be hatchery steelhead.  All Chinook must be released.

Anglers are reminded fishing from the north jetty is open 7 days/week when Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) or Buoy 10 areas are open for salmon.  Barbed hooks are allowed.  The daily limit and minimum size restrictions follow the most liberal regulations of either of these areas.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 725 bank anglers with 193 steelhead, 3 adult Chinook, and 1 cutthroat.  In addition, we sampled 154 boat anglers (72 boats) with 89 steelhead and 2 jack Chinook.  Including fish released, boat anglers averaged over ½ steelhead per rod while bank anglers averaged one per just under every 4 rods .  Best catches were observed from Kalama downstream and in the gorge.  Overall just over half the steelhead caught were kept.

Adult Chinook must be released through July. Beginning August 1, one adult Chinook may be retained as part of the 2 adult salmonid  daily limit.  All salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho will have to be released.    The total catch expectation for this fishery is 15,100 chinook and 1,900 coho.

New for 2009:  Beginning Sept. 13, all Chinook must be released from the Lewis River downstream.  In an attempt to help clarify the upper boundary, this year the line will be projected from the Warrior Rock lighthouse, through Red Buoy #4, to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the lower end of Bachelor Island.

Mainstem Columbia from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – Some summer Chinook and steelhead are being caught in The Dalles Pool.  No effort for salmonids was observed in John Day Pool.

Beginning August 1, all salmon other than Chinook and coho must be released.  Wild coho must be released from Bonneville Dam to the Hood River Bridge. The total catch expectation for this fishery is 1,900 chinook.

New for 2009:  Night closure and anti-snagging rule for salmon and steelhead will be in effect from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam through October 15. Previously, the night closure and old non-buoyant lure restriction was only in effect up to The Dalles Dam.

However, salmon and steelhead anglers fishing either Washington or Oregon waters from McNary Dam to the Washington/Oregon border  may now fish 24 hours/day. Historically, Oregon waters were closed to fishing at night.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – During the  July 17-19 white sturgeon retention fishery, charter boat anglers averaged just over ¾  legal kept per rod while private boaters averaged one per every 4.2 rods.  Fishing from the bank was slow. Close to half of the fish caught were keeper size.

A JOINT STATE HEARING HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY JULY 21, AT 2:00 PM VIA TELECONFERENCE.  The purpose is review white sturgeon catch and consider additional days of retention in the below Wauna (estuary) sport fishery.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch.  Slow for legal size fish.

From August through September, all sturgeon must be released.  The area from Marker 85 upstream to the bank and boat deadlines below Bonneville Dam will re-open to fishing for sturgeon August 1.

WALLEYE, BASS AND SHAD

The Dalles and John Day pools – Boat anglers are catching bass in both pools.  Walleye and shad are being caught by boat anglers in John Day Pool.

TROUTMayfield Lake – Bank anglers around the hatchery are catching some rainbows.

Riffe Lake – Bank anglers are catching a mixture of landlocked coho, Chinook, and steelhead plus a few bass.

Chambers, Knuppenburg, and Long lakes in Lewis County each received 510 catchable size browns from July 9-14.

ODFW Stocks 450 High Lakes

July 20, 2009

While trout stocking in the northern Cascades of Washington has been halted, on the Oregon side of the range, 450 lakes were planted with rainbows, cutthroat and brookies last week.

Just don’t plan on catching them anytime soon. The 350,000 fish released via helicopter drops only went 1 to 11/2 inches long. It will take them several years to reach 8 to 15 inches.

“We’re creating a unique opportunity for people who want to hike in and do some fishing while they’re enjoying these lakes,” said Ted Wise, a fish biologist who led the weeklong project, in a press release.

According to ODFW, the fish are first stored in canisters that also hold a couple gallons of water. When the helicopter is hovering over the lake, the tanks are opened by remote control. Biologists like to use the smaller, juvenile fish because they can make the 100-foot fall to the lake with less trauma than larger fish.

A TECH POURS TROUT FRY INTO A CANNISTER. (JULY 2007, ODFW)

A TECH POURS TROUT FRY INTO A CANNISTER. (FILE PHOTO, JULY 2007, ODFW)

TROUT CANNISTERS AWAIT TRANSPORT TO THE HIGH LAKES. (ODFW, JULY 2007)

TROUT CANNISTERS AWAIT TRANSPORT TO THE HIGH LAKES. (FILE PHOTO, JULY 2007, ODFW)

A CHOPPER LIFTS OFFS OVER THE OREGON CASCADES. (JULY 2007, ODFW)

A CHOPPER LIFTS OFF OVER THE OREGON CASCADES. (FILE PHOTO, JULY 2007, ODFW)

BOMBS AWAY OVER AN OREGON MOUNTAIN LAKE LAST WEEK. (ODFW)

BOMBS AWAY OVER AN OREGON MOUNTAIN LAKE NEAR MT. HOOD LAST WEEK. (ODFW)

The agency noted their use of GPS units saved time navigating back and forth to the lakes. Wise figures it cost less than $156 to stock each one.

“We feel that there is more than enough recreational use of these lakes to justify the expense,” said Wise.

Meanwhile, in Washington’s North Cascades National Park, the July 1 deadline for Congress to give park biologists direction on continued plantings came and went without action, so trout will no longer be stocked there. A biologist told Northwest Sportsman it will primarily affect 26 lakes where, without fresh plants, trout will populations will die of old age in five years time or so.

However, another dozen lakes will continue to host trout for decades because they are too large for netting, poison or spawning ground disturbance efforts to work.

The Trail Blazers, a group opposed to the park’s plan, hopes that anglers will contact Senators Murray and Cantwell to support a trout-stocking bill that was passed out of the U.S. House but has stalled in the other chamber of Congress.

NWS Writer Finds Huge Albies, ‘Crabosauruses’

July 20, 2009

A couple weeks ago, Northwest Sportsman writer Andy Schneider put me on alert for a trip on the Cowlitz for summer steelhead. Said he planned on hitting it hard every weekend for a month. Since the Southwest Washington river is about halfway between our homes, I said call me anytime.

So I was a bit confused when his email “Green Water HOGS” popped into my email just a bit ago. Well, first I nashed my teeth — damn all these baby birthday parties that kept me around the house this weekend! Then I said, hey, wait a minute, green water hogs in the Cow?!?!?

So I opened up his email and discovered that the cows weren’t coming from the Cowlitz — rather the ocean.

Here’s Schneider’s report:

The Blue Water off of the Oregon coast has moved offshore more than 40-miles, but that doesn’t mean that the Albacore have gone with it.

With a favorable forecast predicted for Saturday, I was able to reschedule a day of ‘Bucking Hay’ and rounded up a crew with my good friend Tom VanderPlaat and his future Son-in-Law, Chris.  We pulled into Garibaldi at 4:45 and it wasn’t a minute to soon, since a precession of Coho Anglers pulled in immediately after us and backed the ramp up to the road.  We headed across a smooth bar, dropped the Crab pots, aimed the boat West and hit the throttle….then immediately pulled the throttle back.  The ocean wasn’t rough, but it wasn’t smooth either and we made an average of 16-knots West.

Things didn’t start looking ‘Fishy’ till we hit the 124 45 line (approximately 33 Nautical miles from shore).  We put some clones out and proceeded to troll West at 8-knots.  We had water temperature (60-degrees), we had birds, we had debris in the water, but we didn’t have the blue water that us Albacore fisherman crave, in fact the water was still very, very Green.  I realized that Blue water was probably outside of my range and that we would just have to pursue these Tuna in the Green Water.  With that decided, we deployed some diving Rapalas (Max Rap 20’s) and some swim baits (5-inch ‘Chovie Fish Trap’s).  It didn’t take long before a Rapala got bit and line was screaming off the reel.  We let Chris take this fish since it was his 1st Tuna ever!

It was taking Chris a little longer than normal to battle this Albacore, even with plenty of motivational harassment.  It become obvious why this fish was being so stubborn once the fish was within sight; It was a HOG!  The next 30-seconds were occupied by all of us looking at the largest Albacore any of us had ever seen swimming in a circle just under the surface.  After we snapped out of our daze, Chris raised the rod and I gaffed the fish.  Once the fish was on deck we realized that this was a true definition of a “Green Water Hog”, weighing in at 40-pounds!

Once the fish was cooling in the fish box we started the troll again only to discover that an unattended swim bait rod had picked up another fish during the battle with ‘The Hog’.  The next few hours were filled with singles, doubles, triples and one quad….though not all the fish were landed, we still headed home with an abundance of Tuna.

We all got a little surprise pulling the Crab pots; 22 keepers!  Some were legal, some were “dinner plates” and some were “Crabosauruses”!!!

TOM VANDER PLAAT WITH A HUGE ALBIE. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

TOM VANDER PLAAT WITH A HUGE ALBIE. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Heck With The Point, Pull A Bank Job

July 17, 2009

Yesterday, after I fired off my Central Puget Sound Chinook opener report, a buddy of mine chuckled about all the boats that had flown out of Edmonds Marina for Possession Point, Appletree Cove, Jeff Head, the oil docks, etc., etc., etc., that morning. All those anglers had roared right over the 20- and 10-pounders he caught nearby.

He predicted there would be a few boats today in the Edmonds area, and sure enough, according to our eagle-eyed spotter on the waterfront, there were “a ton” around 8 this morning.

Chinook-report chasers, they may be, or maybe there really is some good fishing going on there. But needless to say, one salmon manager down in Olympia is a bit puzzled by all the anglers who stuck to their PoBar, Kingston, Shilshole plan when it’s become quite clear that the early bite is best at Port Townsend and Midchannel Bank, at the top end of the area open for hatchery kings.

“I try to tell folks that, but they seem to like Possession,” says Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager. “It was slow down south, but lights out for the guys who had it dialed in up north. Two fish per boat for our checkers at Port Townsend halfway through the day. That’s kind of like it was the first year (2007). If you’re doing a Chinook an angler, that’s rivaling ocean fishing.”

“I don’t understand fishermen. They get so locked into fishing the place they caught a fish last week or the year before. It’s almost like they forget how to fish — where’s the bait? where are the birds?” he says, and points to widely available catch and fishing information.

Tim Bush’s July Sounder column spoke extensively about fishing Midchannel and the west side of Whidbey, but that’s how salmon anglers are. As of 10 a.m., that fleet off Edmonds (originally estimated at a dozen or so) had shrunk down to two, according to our spotter.

This year there is a softer “guideline” of 11,000 hatchery kings instead of a 7,000-fish quota of the first two years of the mark-selective season. Fish & Wildlife is monitoring catches with checkers at the two most active ports apiece in both Areas 9 and 10.

Whether Port Townsend stays red hot is a good question. Hot catches in the San Juans and at Sekiu have slowed this week, but Thiesfeld points out that pinks are now available at Sekiu.

Second-rod Option Coming To WA Lakes In August

July 17, 2009

You could soon be twice as deadly on trout, walleye and other species in Washington (and need to buy twice as much gear!). Fishery managers are moving quickly to allow trollers, bait plunkers and others to use two rods on most lakes in the Evergreen State.

Of course, it will cost most anglers $20, but according to resident trout manager Jim Uehara in Olympia, the option should be available by mid-August.

“We weren’t expecting to make this available until next license season, but we’re expediting it,” he says.

Oregon anglers may also have the option starting in 2010.

Both state’s Legislatures voted to allow it this year, Oregon’s as part of a broad fee-increase package. Washington is also raising license fees starting July 26, and while most will hurt, this one is voluntary. It was authorized by House Bill 1778 and was signed by Governor Gregoire in late May. Money generated by the annual fee (senior anglers will only have to pay $5) will go towards hatchery fish production.

In the Beaver State, a second-pole permit would cost $17.

“We’re on track to do it next year, but need a couple permissions first,” says Jessica Sall with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in Salem. First, Governor Kulogoski must sign the legislation and then the Fish & Wildlife Commission must approve it, she says.

It would only be legal on stillwaters – lakes, reservoirs, ponds, except Columbia River impoundments and the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam, she says.

In Olympia, Uehara and others at Fish & Wildlife are “cutting” regulations that would make it legal on freshwater lakes that don’t fall under selective-gear, fly-fishing or juvenile-only regulations.

“Lakes with anadromous fish – we will probably exempt these as well,” he says, but adds, “You might be able to fish with two poles when anadromous fish aren’t in them – Lake Washington for cutts or perch when sockeye and kings aren’t in.”

Uehara doesn’t know how many folks will bite so late in the license year, but you’ll probably find him dragging around Summit, American and Ward lakes for kokanee with an extra rod out.

“It will be very handy to fish with a second rod,” he says.

And of course, all the usual limits still apply – a second rod doesn’t mean a second daily limit, Uehara and Sall point out. And you would also need a regular fishing license.

Idaho allows anglers to use a second rod for $13.75.

“It’s a pretty popular deal,” says Fish & Game spokesman Ed Mitchell in Boise.

A second-pole permit first became available in July 1998, he says, and 5,481 were sold. Last year, 27,465 anglers went out with a pair of rods.

“People like it, and whether you catch your six fish with one pole or two, it doesn’t hurt the resource,” Mitchell says.

Originally, some Gem State waters were exempted, but today second rods are legal everywhere, rivers included, he says.

Uehara says the idea has come up every year during the decade he’s been with the department.

“We’ve had proposals from (warmwater anglers) for a lot of years. ‘Why don’t you just charge a fee for a second rod? The agency needs money,’” he says.

While the department has been “reluctant” to do so because of salmon — multiple rods means faster catches and shorter seasons, he says, and “people want full seasons” — but with a glaring $30 million shortfall in the budget, the second-rod stamp and other increases should raise about $11 million over the next two years.

Uehara says additional lines won’t be allowed on selective-gear and fly waters because they’re more about quality fishing experiences than quantity.

Juvenile waters were exempted because they’re “learning areas,” he adds.

There are 14 fly-only and over 30 youth lakes and ponds.

“There will be plenty of areas to fish with two poles,” Uehara says. He says there are over 8,800 lakes in the state, 17 percent of which are stocked.

An angler preference survey showed that 32 percent of Washington fishermen either strongly supported or supported the option.

“So we figure that half of those will buy it,” Uehara says

Before they’re available, license vendors will have to attend a training session, part of which will be reinforcing where it’s legal, he says.

Lake Wenatchee Sockeye Update

July 17, 2009

Biologists estimate that 30,000 sockeye will return to Lake Wenatchee, 7,000 over spawning escapement goals. Word through the grapevine is that any fishery would occur in mid-August. It would be the second season in a row.

PT Boats Do Well On Sound King Opener

July 16, 2009

UPDATED 4:09 P.M. For some, it was flounderville. For others, Chinooktown.

Jeff Head was pumping out the flatfish while PT was putting out kings — and some very nice ones at that during today’s hatchery Chinook opener on Puget Sound’s Marine Area’s 9 and 10.

“Nick (Kester) went to Port Townsend and is on the way back with I think six fish — five from 18 to 28 pounds and one around 11, 12 pounds,” said charter captain Gary Krein (425-422-4800) about his fellow guide around 3 p.m. “He lost several and put one back.”

PT was also productive during last year’s season.

Andrew Moravec at Three Rivers Marine (425-415-1575) says his customers  report good fishing at not just Midchannel Bank, but also Point No Point and Skunk Bay further south in Admiralty Inlet from the famous bank off Port Townsend, but primarily early, before 7:30 a.m.

And halfway between PT and PNP, but on the Whidbey Island side, Nelson Goodsell of Woodinville had a heckuva good morning too.

“We got five kings and a coho. Biggest was 22, average was around 12 pounds,” he says, adding, “And we let five nice natives go.”

He was fishing the east side of Bush Point in 120 feet of water, running cotton candy Coho Killers 10 feet off the bottom.

“With that current, there was a lot of bait. We just kept going through the swirl,” he says.

As with elsewhere, the early bite was best. Goodsell reports three or four of the kings in the boat by 7 a.m. and says he was headed back to the barn by 9 a.m.

Two unusual notes: He was running his spoons 55 inches behind Hot Spot flashers, and while most of the king’s bellies were empty one contained a very unusual thing.

“You’re not going to believe this: A spot prawn. It was a fresh one, still had its antennas coming out of its head,” he says. “I don’t know what spot prawns look like in the water — cotton candy, I guess,” Goodsell says.

This is the third summer in a row Central Puget Sound has been open for fin-clipped Chinook. The first season saw hot fishing and a burn-through of the 7,000-king quota in two weeks while last year’s fishery in Area 9 stayed open from mid-July through Aug. 10 and then reopened Aug. 12-15.

Further south, Krein reports that the rest of the charter fleet nabbed three off Possession Bar and one at Jeff Head.

At noon, the fish checker at Shilshole had counted 18 for 60 boats and 100 anglers, including two “nice Chinooks” from Meadow Point, he says. The checker at the Everett ramp told him around 2 p.m. that 100 boats had brought in 28 salmon — half of which were caught by three boats that had made the long early haul up to PT.

Krein says that Kester, whom he was in frequent contact with, “personally saw 30 fish caught right around him” between 6:30 and 8 a.m.. “At one time he saw 12 on at once.”

Krein says that the standout lure off PT were Coho Killers and Needlefish squid — “something that resembles the candlefish.”

Eric Elliott at The Fish-N-Hole (360-385-7031) on the water in Port Townsend (it’s also a fuel dock) reports seeing a dozen or so 16- and 20-pound kings brought in. He says anglers also told him that Coho Killers were the lure.

Tim Bush at Outdoor Emporium (206-624-6550) reports Chinook landed at Kingston and off the oil docks south of Edmonds.

And Ryley Fee, known online as Sky-Guy, and his fishing partner landed a 20-pound hen and a 10-pounder off the Edmonds breakwater.

Krein and others fishing around Jeff Head had their spoons molested by flounder.

“If you’re within 20 feet of the bottom, you’re going to get one,” he says. “That’s three years in a row. I don’t know what the deal is.”

I fished that area with Andy Shanks, Gerald Chew and a friend of Shanks and we landed one 7-pound-or-so clipped Chinook, a shaker, as well as numerous flatfish, several rockfish and a dogfish while running Coho Killers and Coyote spoons.

We  started in Appletree Cove, headed south, dodged a crab buoy way out there, and then worked the point. Around 9 a.m. or so, we had a nice hit while headed north through bait in 125 feet of water, so Shanks swung us around for a second pass and it paid off.

While Krein doesn’t term today a stellar opener, Moravec calls it “all-around solid.”

Estuary Sturgeon, Reiter Steelhead Open This Weekend

July 15, 2009

Recent rule changes mean more fishing opportunities for Oregon and Washington anglers.

On the lower Columbia River, there’s still enough sturgeon left in the quota to open a Friday-Sunday fishery this weekend.

And on Washington’s upper Skykomish, a biologist says enough broodstock will have been collected to open the Reiter Ponds stretch July 18, two weeks earlier than printed in the fishing regulations.

Second Pack Of Pups For Lookout Wolves Confirmed

July 15, 2009

The same day a pack of wolves made themselves known in Northeast Washington, a biologist in Okanogan County’s Methow Valley confirmed that the local pack there has had pups for the second year in a row.

According to Harriet Allen, an endangered species manager for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, pups from the Lookout Pack near Twisp howled back at WDFW biologist Scott Fitkin last Friday.

That was the same day that Scott Fisher of the state DNR heard adults and at least three pups at an undisclosed location in Pend Oreille County.

Allen says young pups have a distinctive high-pitched howl compared to older animals.

The Lookout group, which had six pups last spring, was the state’s first breeding pack of wolves in 70 years. The parents were radio-tagged and released. Biologists learned they roam over a rugged 400-square-mile area of Okanogan and Chelan counties. It’s unclear how many pups survived the winter, or where they’ve dispersed to.

Allen isn’t surprised by the Pend Oreille pack. They’re right next to Idaho, which has seen increasing numbers of wolves for over a decade.

“That was where we expected them at first,” she said.

And it’s also typical of how a pack “establishes” itself: reports of howling, tracks or wolf sightings followed by trail-camera hits and then finally confirmation.

News of the Northeast pack sparked a 10-page thread at Hunt Washington. Another thread tracks wolf sightings in Washington over the past five years.

The Pend Oreille country features moose, deer, mule deer and whitetail, rabbit and grouse hunting while the Methow hosts a fairly good mule deer herd with a few moose and very scattered elk.

In Idaho, where wolves have had impacts on elk herds and were taken off the Endangered Species list last May, a fall wolf hunt is planned. Quotas will be set in August.

Meanwhile, down in Washington’s Blue Mountains, biologists were recently tracking down reports of wolves over the winter as well as howling in the backcountry, but so far have found nothing, Allen said. A pack was known to be just south of the state line in Northeast Oregon last year. The Blues contain a recovering elk herd, mule deer and whitetail, and a blossoming population of moose.

Allen says the state’s wolf management plan will be available for public comment at the end of September. She anticipates the agency will hold 12 meetings around the state in September, October and November.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

July 15, 2009

Tuna off the coast, late-season trout stockings, walleye biting near Portland, good crappie fishing on the Idaho line — here are more highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Spring chinook and summer steelhead are available the Nestucca and Tillamook basins. Prospects are fair as water conditions are low and clear. Fish early for best results.
  • Angling for sea-run cutthroat in tidewater areas should be improving.
  • Lost Lake recently received approximately 3,000 trout from Nehalem Hatchery. No further trout stocking is scheduled until September. The 2009 stocking schedule is available online.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • With the advent of warmer weather, fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill has picked up in many area lakes and ponds. Bluegills have begun to spawn in area lakes and can be very aggressive.
  • Anglers fishing the Rogue bay picked up several chinook over the weekend with a couple over 30 lbs. Chinook numbers will continue to climb all July.
  • Fishing for pink fin surfperch has been fair to good in the Umpqua estuary and Winchester Bay.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • July is a good time to get into the high lakes to do some trout fishing. Trails are free of snow and the fish are active. Remember to take mosquito repellant.
  • Prospects are good for chinook and steelhead on the tributaries of the mid and upper Willamette.
  • Summer steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River.
  • Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • After recent population surveys, redband trout populations appear to be healthier than in recent years; good fishing is expected throughout the summer.
  • The Prineville Youth Fishing Pond has been stocked with largemouth bass and is open to anglers 14 years and younger.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Flows on the Blitzen River have continued to drop, and fishing for redband trout remains pretty good.
  • Trout fishing at Lake of the Woods should be good this weekend. Look for trout in deeper, cooler parts of the lake.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on the John Day, especially the Middle and South Forks, continues to be good now that snowmelt has subsided and the river has dropped into shape. Bass and channel cat fishing is very good right now in the lower river.
  • Fishing for crappie and yellow perch is good on McKay Reservoir. The best bite will be in the evening.
  • Flows in the Walla Walla River have reached summer levels and trout fishing has been good.

SNAKE ZONE

  • BROWNLEE RESERVOIR: Crappie are biting well on jigs and crappie nibbles. Best times to fish are early morning or at night using lights. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white. If fishing during the day for crappie, the fish are generally  15-25 feet deep with a light bite. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • OXBOW RESERVOIR: Crappie fishing is fair.  Catfish angling is good.  Bass fishing is slow-fair.
  • HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Crappie fishing has been very good using jigs and nibbles and/or bobbers with a 3-4 foot lead. The crappie are larger, and in higher number at the upstream end of the reservoir near Copperfield Park. Fishing off the bridge has been good. Bass fishing has been fair but the fish are mostly just under the size minimum of 12 inches.  Catfish angling is picking up.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Summer steelhead are being caught by both boat and bank anglers.
  • The below Wauna sturgeon fishery will be open for retention during Friday July 17 through Sunday July 19.
  • Walleye fishing is improving near Troutdale and in the gorge.

MARINE ZONE

Catches averaged nine out of Astoria,  seven out of Garibaldi, 13 out of Pacific City, six out of Depoe Bay, six out of Newport and five out of Bandon. Anglers found tuna as close to shore, but most of the catches were farther than 30 miles offshore.

Fishing for coho in the ocean also picked up last week with most ports on the north and central coast averaging a between one and two coho per angler. Many ports reported two releases for every retained coho.

Fishing for chinook out of Astoria was slow with only one in 10 anglers finding success.

Sport ocean salmon fishing opened June 20 south of Cape Falcon and June 28 between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point (Wash.) For season details.

Halibut anglers took most of the remaining spring quota off the central Oregon coast during the last all-depth sport halibut opening July 2, 3, and 4. Fishers caught all but 1,800 pounds of the spring quota during that opening. It will be rolled into the summer all-depth season, which starts Aug. 7.

A few halibut are still being caught inside the 40-fathom line on the central coast. This fishery continues to be open seven days a week until a separate quota of 14,407 pounds is attained or Oct. 31, which ever comes first.

Pacific halibut sport fishery off the Columbia River will reopen Aug. 7. For more information on the halibut season.

Lingcod continue to be scarce with fewer than two in 10 anglers landing a fish coastwide. Anglers scored better with rockfish, greenling and other species in the marine bag landing an average of about three fish per angler.

The marine bag limit has been increased from six marine fish to seven effective May 1. This is the highest marine bag limit since summer of 2005. The marine fish bag includes rockfish and other species such as greenling and cabezon. The increased bag limit is based on a favorable stock assessment for black rockfish, the dominant species in the nearshore groundfish fishery.

Bottomfish anglers need to stay shoreward of the 40-fathom line through Sept. 30 to protect yelloweye rockfish. This regulation applies to lingcod, rockfish, cabezon, flatfish and other species listed on page 100 of the 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. The 40-fathom line is defined by latitude and longitude; coordinates are online at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp.

Remember: yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish may not be retained. The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area approximately 15 miles west of Newport is closed to the harvest of rockfish, lingcod, flatfish and others.

Recreational harvesting of mussels continues to be closed from the south jetty of the Columbia River to Neptune State Park due to elevated levels of PSP toxins. The entire Oregon coast is open to the recreational harvest of clams and other shellfish. However, harvesters should check for current closures on the ODA shellfish safety page or call the shellfish hotline, 1-800-448-2474. Waters can be closed on short notice because of contaminated waters due to coastal flooding and because of elevated levels of naturally occurring toxins.

A series of morning minus starts July 19 and continues through July 26 which will provide opportunity for bay clam diggers coast wide. Tide times can vary up to a couple of hours, depending where you are on the coast. Consult a tide table for the area where you will be.

In most Oregon ports last week crabbers averaged between about three crab, with crabbers out of Charleston, Winchester Bay and Pacific City getting an average of six.

Bio’s VM: ‘If You’re Calling About Lake Wenatchee Sockeye …’

July 15, 2009

UPDATED 2:35 P.M.: With Washington and Oregon fishery managers upping the sockeye forecast for the Columbia Basin earlier this week, I thought I’d give Art Viola over in Wenatchee a call.

He’s the state fisheries biologist for the Wenatchee River basin, in which sits Lake Wenatchee. And practically anytime there’s even a single sockeye in the river, people start wondering whether the lake will open for salmon fishing.

So it wasn’t surprising that Viola had updated his voice mail message:

“This is Art Viola. If you’re calling about the possibility of a Lake Wenatchee sockeye season, the answer is, we still don’t know, but it’s looking more likely than it has in the past,” it says. “We’re watching the counts over Tumwater, and also Rocky Reach and Rock Island. And we’ll know more in a week or so. See you later. BEEP.”

Managers need 23,000 sockeye or so back to the lake to meet spawning escapement goals. Through July 14, 175,504 have passed Bonneville Dam with 134,089 already over Rock Island Dam, the plug immediately below the mouth of the Wenatchee. Most will continue up over Rocky Reach, on the Columbia upstream of the Wenatchee, but many will turn left at the town of Wenatchee and cross Tumwater, which about two-thirds of the way between the mouth and the lake.

Overall, this year’s forecast is now for 185,000 sockeye to return to the Okanogan River and Lake Osoyoos, Lake Wenatchee, and Redfish Lake way out in Central Idaho, about 2,500 more than the preseason forecast. That’s actually fewer than swam up the Columbia last year and provided a short fishery on Lake Wenatchee, but it’s still exciting nonetheless.

COLUMBIA SOCKEYE RUNS THIS YEAR AND LAST HAVE BEEN WELL OVER 10-YEAR AVERAGES. (COLUMBIA D.A.R.T.)

COLUMBIA SOCKEYE RUNS THIS YEAR AND LAST HAVE BEEN WELL OVER 10-YEAR AVERAGES. (COLUMBIA D.A.R.T.)

I called up Hooked On Toys (509-663-0740) about 10 minutes after leaving a message for Viola, but Don Talbot wasn’t in today. Probably out fishing.

And if so, he may be angling for sockeye. As the gent at the fishing desk reminded me, there already is a red season going on right now on the Columbia. He says that when fishing for summer Chinook gets tough, anglers put out their red hooks and troll for the much smaller salmon.

A CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC Viola called back around 1:45 p.m. this afternoon and fleshed out his voice message, which he said he recorded yesterday.

“It seems more favorable that we’re going to have one than a few weeks ago,” he allows, but immediately adds, “It doesn’t mean we will.”

It was like this before last year’s opener too: tons of interest, lots of phone calls, red hooks stocked on the shelves and an intense interest in fish passage. It paid off with a season. The August 6 sockeye opener on the lake was hot, with anglers out early slammin’ em. Season was open 10 days before the quota was caught.

This year, however, only 40 sockeye have gone over Tumwater Dam on their way to the lake so far, but that doesn’t phase Viola.

“Science has done some stuff to help me figure out how many are going back,” he says.

But he points out, you don’t want to whack this year’s spawners too hard and impact potential fisheries in the future.

Viola adds that sockeye are the toughest of all salmon to predict due to spawning success, water conditions, predation and, most importantly, the ocean. Then there are the fish themselves, some of which inexplicably spend one year in freshwater and two in the salt while others spend just one year in the Pacific.

“It will drive you nuts,” he says.

Here’s hoping that he doesn’t go nutz before giving a go-ahead on the fishery. Watch WDFW’s Fishing Rule Change page, or their Twitter page for official word.

And a final sockeye sidenote: This year’s return to Redfish is tracking above last year’s “big” run. Northwest Fishletter yesterday reported:

By July 13, 914 sockeye had been counted at Lower Granite, compared to 691 last year, nearly 30 percent higher. The run is a little earlier than last year, with strong daily counts still showing.

Back in 2007, only 34 had been counted by now, and in 2006, 7 sockeye had made it past the dam by July 12. The final dam tally for those years was 52 and 17, respectively.

Report: Despite El Nino Forecast, ‘Things Holding Together’ For Salmon Off Northwest

July 14, 2009

We may not see the super-sized coho of last summer in Oregon and Washington’s rivers, but despite El Nino conditions taking hold in the Pacific, “things are holding together” for salmon and their feed off our shores.

That’s according to a NOAA ocean scientist in Newport, Ore., interviewed for a Northwest Fishletter article posted this afternoon.

(Bill) Petersen said ocean conditions are definitely less productive than last year, but with the North Pacific in a strongly negative PDO [Pacific Decadal Oscillation] phase, El Niños tend to be a lot less powerful. He said it may only amount to a “little downturn” in the good conditions of the past several years.

Last week, NOAA announced the arrival of El Nino, a weather phenemenon that can increase rain in some areas, tamp down hurricane strength in others and reduce the amount of upwellings and thus feed for salmon in the North Pacific.

Fishletter reports that “relatively good conditions for salmon still exist offshore,” and Peterson says a big Chinook run is expected in 2010. The story also reports that recent ocean trawl surveys found high numbers of coho and sockeye.

2nd Washington Wolf Pack Confirmed: SR

July 14, 2009

It’s no longer a “may be.” According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, biologists have confirmed there’s a second wolf pack in Washington, this one in Pend Oreille County.

Playing a recording of howling wolves at sunrise last Friday morning, a state DNR bio got at least one adult wolf and three pups to howl back, the paper reports today.

Wolves turned up on remote trail cameras in this part of Washington this past spring, including what looked like a lactating female. However, loggers directed biologists to the location where the pack was heard, the paper says.

They say bios will now try to radio-collar on the adults to track their movements.

We’re also waiting for an update on Washington’s other breeding pack, located in the Twisp area. And WDFW is checking on recent reports of wolves in the Blue Mountains.

Meanwhile, the state’s draft wolf management plan will soon be available for comment. WDFW’s Dana Base, a wildlife biologist in Colville, told the Spokesman-Review that the Northeast corner’s deer, elk, moose and small-game prey base can support “packs,” but:

“It will be a balancing act. If wolves start showing up in backyards in Ione or Newport, we’re not going to be able to tolerate that. If they start habitually killing livestock, we won’t be able to tolerate that, either.”

Direction On The Director: WA FWC Wants Input

July 14, 2009

With job applications coming in, the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission is looking for public input on what professional and personal qualities a new director should have, as well as what the Department of Fish & Wildlife’s priorities should be in the coming years.

They’ve posted a five-question survey online for hunters, anglers and others to fill out.

After filling in a box with your name and address, the first part of the survey allows you to checkmark three boxes in answer to the questions:

What areas of expertise should we look for in the next Department Director?

What are the most critical challenges facing the Department?

What do you see as the most important areas for improvement in Department performance?

According to an agency press release, 27 people have applied for the director’s position, with five of those “qualified” to hold it. The second to last question asks if you know anyone who might make a good candidate.

The last question allows you to make other comments.

"... AND IN CONCLUSION, IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A DIRECTOR WHO ACTUALLY FISHES AND HUNTS. THANK YOU, SINCERELY, ANDY WALGAMOTT"

"... AND IN CONCLUSION, IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A DIRECTOR WHO ACTUALLY FISHES AND HUNTS. THANK YOU, SINCERELY, ANDY WALGAMOTT"

Fish & Wildlife has been without a permanent director since Dr. Jeff Koenings resigned last December. Phil Anderson has been interim director since then.

Commission co-chair Miranda Wecker encourages public input on the survey. She says that qualifying job applicants will be reviewed at the commission’s Aug. 10-11 meeting in Colville, but resumes are being accepted until the position is filled.

SW WA Fishing Report

July 13, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – At the barrier dam, 14 bank anglers kept 2 adult Chinook and released 1 jack.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 700 bank anglers with 163 steelhead, 3 adult and 4 jack Chinook, and 4 sockeye. In addition, we sampled 143 boat anglers (65 boats) with 35 steelhead and 1 adult and 1 jack Chinook. Overall, just over half the steelhead caught were kept.  Adult Chinook must be released through July.

During the Saturday July 11 flight, a total of 541 WA and 200 OR bank anglers plus just over 200 boats were counted.  Over half the WA bank anglers were counted in the Longview-Cathlamet area.  Boat effort was spread throughout the river.

The Dalles Pool – Some summer Chinook and steelhead are being caught by bank anglers.

John Day Pool – Angler effort for salmon continues to decline. No salmon/steelhead were observed in the catch.  For the season anglers have retained 4 adult and 56 jack Chinook plus 8 sockeye.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Monday July 13, 2009 and updated the Chinook and Sockeye run sizes.   The updated summer Chinook run size is 55,000 at the river mouth.   This is based on average counts from now through July 31 at Bonneville and an estimated below Bonneville harvest of 5,000 Chinook.   Pre-season forecast was 70,700 fish.  TAC updated the sockeye run size to 185,000 at the river mouth.  This forecast is based on an average run timing curve.  Pre-season forecast was 183,200 fish.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – Nearly all of the charter boat anglers had their one-fish limit.  Private boat anglers averaged a legal kept per about every 4 rods.  Bank angling was slow.  The average still remains about 40% of the fish caught were of legal size.

Approximately 280 private and 4 charter boats were counted during the Saturday July 11 flight.

White sturgeon may be retained July 17-19. Fishery managers will review the catch data after July 19 to determine if additional fishing opportunity is available under the 15,529 fish catch guideline for this year’s fishery.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 85 – Outside of the gorge, effort was generally light.

WALLEYE/BASS

The Dalles Pool – No walleye were reported caught by the boat anglers that were sampled.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged a walleye and a bass per rod.

SHAD

John Day Pool – Shad fishing has slowed dramatically.  Boat anglers averaged about ½ shad per rod.

TROUT

Skate Creek was surveyed and anglers were catching rainbows.

Mayfield Lake – Scheduled to be planted with 5,000 catchable size rainbows by this weekend.

report courtesy Joe Hymer

Up, Up, Up: WA Licenses Set To Rise

July 13, 2009

Want to save money? Buy the rest of your 2008-09 Washington fishing and hunting licenses in the next two weeks.

A two-year 10 percent surcharge on sales of recreational licenses, permits, tags, stamps and raffle tickets goes into effect July 26.

And Western Washington pheasant permits will also rise to $35 for youth (up from $19.80), $75 for resident adults (up from$39.60) and $150 for non-resident adults (also up from $39.60) starting the same day.

But before you start shaking your fist at those money-grubbing so-and-sos at WDFW, the fee increases actually came through the state Legislature and were signed into law by the governor this past session.

“While looking for ways to balance the budget, state lawmakers recognized that maintaining fishing and hunting opportunities costs money,” deputy director Joe Stohr said in a press release.  “They also recognize that those activities are an important part of our state’s economy.”

The changes will help offset a $30 million budget cutback at the Department of Fish & Wildlife over the next two years, the release says. The above fees as well as two-rod option for anglers and a pilot Columbia River system salmon/steelhead stamp will help raise $11 million over the next two years, according to the agency.

The surcharge is scheduled to be in effect until June 30, 2011. It’s the “first across-the-board recreational license fee increase in more than a decade,” according to WDFW.

The two-rod option for $20 will be available after managers figure out where to allow it.

The “Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Program” takes effect next year on the big river and its tributaries, and will be in place for two years.

According to the department, the pheasant fee increase is to “maintain pheasant production for Westside release sites.”

Top it off, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission will now allow license dealers to begin charging a 50-cent handling fee for each migratory-bird permit they issue instead of mailing out those permits. WDFW says it may save them $20,000 per year in staff time and mailing.

WDFW Bios Checking For Wolves At 2 Borders

July 10, 2009

A press release from WDFW this afternoon reports that biologists are not only trying to determine if Washington has its second breeding pack of wolves, but reveals that they’re also looking for Canus lupus in a third part of the state.

The news, the first part more or less a rehash of a story from last month about a pair of wolves traveling together in Pend Oreille County, one of which may be a lactating female, adds that reports of wolves are coming from the Blue Mountains as well.

Reports have filtered in about wolves in both regions over the years, but trail camera shots are confirming the presence of the animals in the Northeast. With growing populations to the east in Idaho and Montana, it is not unexpected that wolves would show up in the borderlands. However, it was surprising that Washington’s first pack of wolves, discovered last spring and summer, located itself in the Methow Valley near Twisp relatively far from the Northern Rockies. Genetic testing revealed the parents came from BC gene pools.

Catch Of The Day: ODFW’s 50-60 Doc

July 9, 2009

From Barton Park to Woodburn Pond, bass to walleye, a new pamphlet from ODFW details 50 places to fish within 60 miles of Portland.

Also available online a six-page PDF, it provides good details on how to find each fishery and what’s there. For instance:

6. Carver Park, Carver—21 mi., 31 min.
Salmon, steelhead, fin-clipped trout
Clackamas River. Bank fishing. Boat ramp. Restrooms. Picnic
tables. Weekend day-use fees for non-registered boats and cars.
Take Exit 12, off I-205, Estacada/Mt. Hood. Travel east on Hwy.
212/224. Right onto Hwy. 224. Right on Springwater Road. Turn
left at the end of the bridge. County park.

The document has a map, and its page on ODFW’s Web site has a Google map with numbers that correspond to each location.

Also included are sketches of 14 common species and a checklist of what you’ll need before heading out.

Of Blacktails, Eagles, Rainbows and Orcas

July 8, 2009

River had his first encounter with deer this past weekend. A buck and two does wandered through our campsite, looking for handouts.

No, I’m serious.

They were scrawny things, San Juan Islands’ blacktails, about the size of yearling muley, if that, and could’ve used some meat on their bones.

Tasty looking, nonetheless. At least I thought so.

My 2-year-old son wanted to pet “Bambi” – much to my mother-in-law’s amusement and my chagrin – but we held him back. Even if they’re state-park deer, you never know what wild animals will do. Indeed, a Moran State Park raccoon helped him- or herself to our German butter cake on the first night!

We were camping on Orcas Island over the Fourth, four days in a quiet loop next to a trout-filled lake with several more rainbow waters higher up on Mt. Constitution. I also saw osprey, river otters (or some sort of otters in a lake) and had a bald eagle snatch a fish out of Cascade Lake all of 30 yards away.

That happened when I was fishing The Cove Of The Monster Snails. A trail rings Cascade, but there are only certain places to reach the water on its western half in wet sandals without the aid of rock screws and belay ropes. I’d bushwhacked down to the water where I found a wooded inlet that was just teeming with snails of the most incredible size. It was like an escargot eater’s wet dream – and if there’d been any French in camp, I could’ve made a quick buck or two.

But me and the eagle were out for trout.

While the bird’s catch at midday told me that either A) the fish were still hanging out on top under the hot sun or B) somebody’s released fish didn’t release so well, the only people who were really having any luck was the crew gathered on Cascade’s fishing dock. They were heaving PowerBait and egg sinkers about as far as they could and doing all right. The first afternoon I watched a guy leave with a limit; a day later, I talked with another angler who’d kept four. All during the brightest, hottest part of the day, with eye candy prancing around making concentrating on fishing rods very difficult. (River’s comment, which I could not make up if I tried: “Mama, is that a booby?”)

The rainbows didn’t have any size – 10 to 11 inches, or so – but a young boy told me he’d seen an angler in a boat bring in a big one. He spread his hands wider than his shoulders to indicate its size. Pretty impressive. Bright too; one I caught on our last morning was as shiny as the headhead on my Bugger.

I also fished Mountain Lake, slightly larger than Cascade and higher up Mt. Constitution, in hopes of tying into one of the 450 or so 11/2-pound triploids WDFW planted May 11, but I struck out, and how. I felt better, though, when the middle-aged guy and his two sons came back to the launch in their rowboat at noon and reported they’d caught all of one, and a small trout at that. Two hours beforehand, they’d told me that green fly patterns were good, so I’d drug a green Woolly Bugger around, first with a quarter ounce of weight, then three-quarters of an ounce of lead. It wasn’t the only normally productive lure that did me wrong: a half-and-half Dick Nite, green Rooster Tail, dragonfly nymph and something else I can’t recall all failed to turn any fish. The afternoon before, another angler told me you had to get deep, 40 to 60 feet, to find the lake’s kokanee this time of year. I believed him; he and his son were rigged up with enough Pop Gear to make a metal recycler’s eyebrows rise.

What I should have done instead of troll around Mountain and Cascade in an ancient yellow rubber raft that Amy recalls floating down the Sandy River in as a young girl was hike up to tiny Twin Lakes. They’re on Constitution’s backside, have good access according to my father-in-law who walked around them, and are fun little lakes to fish, says Brian Curtis of the Trail Blazers, to whom I’d spoken just before leaving for camping.

Either that or have hit Cascade the night of the Fourth, when the glass-calm lake was dimpled with rising trout – and the carseat was loaded with River. After a day of sensory overload – curious doe, booby beach, ride in said ancient yellow rubber raft, walk around the top of the mountain – he was refusing to go to sleep, so we had to revert to an old trick: driving the little guy to sleep.

And speaking of sleep, I got too little of it over the campout, so that’s where I’m headed now. If you’ll excuse me …

(Editor’s note: This was written at home Tuesday night and posted Wednesday morning at work.)

Managers Recommend Extending Columbia Sturgeon 6 Days

July 7, 2009

With 4,100 sturgeon still available for harvest, Oregon and Washington managers today recommended extending the season six more days in the Lower Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines.

Managers say only 11,400 of the 15,529-fish quota were caught in June and early July. However, even with the extra six days, they say 1,100 or so sturgeon in the quota will go uncaught.

Fishing will be open July 10-12 and July 17-19.

Weldcraft Launches Cuddy King to Overtake the Ocean of Offshore Designs

July 7, 2009

Weldcraft takes the aluminum offshore hull to new lengths with the introduction of two new Cuddy King models, the 280 and 300. With ocean fishing opportunities expanding each season, Weldcraft dealers were clamoring for something shoppers couldn’t find elsewhere: a true open-water design that not only looks good, but performs in challenging sea conditions and offers exceptional room.

260 CUDDY KING_1

The Cuddy King lineup includes 24-, 26-, 28- and 30-foot models, each available with multiple cabin lengths and flexible configurations. Both the 240 and 260 Cuddy King models feature a trailerable 81?2-foot beam, ¼-inch bottom and tall 40-inch sides for plenty of comforting freeboard.

“Most builders are adding offshore hulls to their line, but this one is different. Don’t expect to see an adaptation of our other hull designs. We approached the Cuddy King with a clean sheet of aluminum and integrated the best attributes of offshore designs from around the globe,” said Jerry Wooley, Executive VP and COO of Renaissance Marine Group.

In addition to the advanced new hull design, Cuddy King overcame another shortcoming buyers have voiced. Storage is always in great demand and short supply in other brands. The Cuddy King, however, won’t get lumped into that category. Under-floor storage runs the full length of the cabin and V-berth. The rear deck’s floor fish box is large enough for limits of tuna, halibut and bottomfish. A transom bait box with split cutting-board lid keeps every essential angling tool in close reach. Depending on the model, there are up to a dozen additional compartments and storage features.

For that discriminating boat buyer who demands performance, and the attributes missing in other offshore hulls, the Weldcraft Cuddy King is worth a look, worth a ride, and worth the investment.

Weldcraft Marine Industries, Inc. has been the leader in building quality welded aluminum boats since 1968. Today, Weldcraft manufactures and distributes through independent marine dealers a full line of boats from 17 to 30 feet. Weldcraft is a Renaissance Marine Group, Inc., company.
For more details and dealer information please visit: www.weldcraftmarine.com.

July 7, 2009

All Ways Fishing, Randy Lato, www.allwaysfishing.com

Dave’s Guide Service, Dave Mallahan, www.steelheadandsalmonfishingguide.com

Don Schneider’s Reel Adventures, www.donsreeladventures.com

Fight Club Guided Fishing, www.fightclubguidedfishing.com

Graser’s Guide Service (509-760-6743)

Greenwater Guide Service, Robin Nelson, www.greenwaterguide.com

Guide Service Northwest, www.guideservicenorthwest.com

Big K Guest Ranch & Guide Service, www.big-k.com

J&J Guide Service, Jim Stahl, www.jandjguideservice.com

JR’s Guide Service, www.jrsguideservice.com

Jeff Woodward Sportfishing, www.jeffwoodwardsportfishing.com

Josh Leach, www.guidejoshleach.com

Kyle Hall Outdoors, www.kylehalloutdoors.com

Linde’s Sportfishing, www.lindesportfishing.com

Obsession Fishing Guide Service, www.obsessionfishingguideservice.com

ONCO Sportfishing, www.oncosportfishing.com

Premo’s Guide Service, www.premofishing.com

Special Moments Guide Service, Curt Welch/Brian Lull, www.specialmomentsguideservice.com

Swanny’s Sportfishing, Bill Swann, www.swannysfishing.com

Team Hook Up Guide Service, Jack & Brandon Glass, www.hookupguideservice.com

Upper Columbia Guide Services, Shane Magnuson & Jerrod Gibbons, www.uppercolumbiaguideservices.com

Wind River Guides (509-528-6875)

WASHINGTON CHARTERS

Advantage Charters, www.advantagecharters.com

All Ways Fishing, Randy Lato, www.allwaysfishing.com

Angler Charters, www.anglercharters.net

Jambo’s Sportfishing, www.JambosSportfishing.com

Ocean Charters, www.oceanchartersinc.com

ONCO Sportfishing, www.oncosportfishing.com

Pacific Salmon Charters, www.pacificsalmoncharters.com

OREGON CHARTERS

Betty K Charters, www.bettykaycharters.com

Dockside Charters, www.docksidedepoebay.com

Prowler Charters, www.prowlercharters.com

Tidewind Charters, www.tidewindsportfishing.com

Tiki Charters, www.tikicharters.com

Secret Island Charters, www.secretislandfishing.com